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India: Forging links in South Asia

16-10-1997 News Release 97/41

A regional workshop for National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of South Asia opened in New Delhi on 14 October 1997, with the aim of setting up a tracing network to help restore contact between separated family members in the region.

The five-day session is being held jointly by the Indian Red Cross Society and the ICRC. Tracing services are based on the principle of respect for the family and the right of its members to maintain the family unit. Under international humanitarian law, families are entitled to correspond with their loved ones from whom they have become separated and to be informed of the fate of relatives who have gone missing.

It is with these principles in mind that the Indian Red Cross Society, the Nepal Red Cross Society, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society have come together in the first regional event of its kind to exchange views and examine how the ICRC's technique and expertise in this sphere can be applied to peacetime tracing activities in South Asia.

The workshop is expected to consolidate working relations between the National Societies of the region, which will draw up a plan of action designed to alleviate the suffering of separated family members.