Sierra Leone/Liberia: First cross-border reunification for Liberian families
28-01-2003 News Release
Freetown/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reunited ten Liberian children living as refugees in Sierra Leone with their families in Liberia. This is the first such cross-border reunification since tensions in Liberia started more than a year ago.
The children were living in the southern part of Sierra Leone, in the Jembe, Gerihun, Gondama, Jimmi Bagbo and Bandajuma refugee camps.
The operation started on Saturday 25 January, when an ICRC team drove the children from Kenema to the Mano river bridge. Liberia-based ICRC delegates accompanied them from here to Monrovia, where eight of the ten have now been reunited with their families. The remaining two family reunions will take place in the next few days.
According to Christoph Schild, ICRC protection coordinator, “Reuniting these children with their families was extremely important, because in difficult times children are best cared for by their families.”
The ICRC had consulted governmental and international agencies involved in tracing and child protection in Sierra Leone and Liberia to ensure the success of this first family reunification.
Family unity is a universal right guaranteed by law. The ICRC does everything possible to reunite people separated by conflict, by establishing their whereabouts and reuniting them with their families. The organization devotes special attention to particularly vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied children and elderly people.
The ICRC carries out a great deal of cross border tracing in West Africa, reuniting unaccompanied children with their families when this is possible and when both parties agree.
Abu Bakr Gamanga / Virginia de la Guardia, ICRC Freetown, tel. ++232 22 233 162 / 172, mobile: ++232 76 629 207