Sudan: 26 more children reunited with their families
23-02-2004 News Release 04/22
On February 23, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reunited 26 children aged between 4 and 17 and two elderly women with their families in the southern Sudanese towns of Raja and Wau.
The children and the women were among thousands of civilians who fled the fighting in Raja in the middle of 2001. In the ensuing chaos, they were separated from their families and ended up in camps for displaced people in Western Equatoria, some 300 kilometres away on the other side of the front line.
" This is a great moment for the children and the parents who have been separated from each other for more than two years, " says Annika Norlin, the ICRC delegate in charge of the operation. " It is the second cross-line reunification carried out by the ICRC in three months " , she adds.
These happy events came about after months of preparation. Working closely with the Sudanese Red Crescent and numerous volunteers in southern Sudan, the ICRC registered the children, traced their parents and helped them to re-establish and maintain contact, using Red Cross messages. The operations took place after the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the Sudanese government gave their formal approval.
The children were brought back home on board an ICRC aircraft. Hundreds of people in Wau and Raja came to the airport to share the joy of their parents. " Till the very last moment, it was really hard to believe we would see our children again, but the ICRC made it possible, " exclaimed one of the parents, overwhelmed with emotion.
The ICRC assists thousands of families in Sudan to communicate with their relatives across the front lines through the use of Red Cross messages. It gives special attention to unaccompanied children by seeking to o rganize family reunifications whenever possible.
A huge number of children throughout Sudan are still separated from their parents. According to international humanitarian law, families split up as a result of conflict have the right to know about the fate of their loved ones and to be reunited with them.
For further information, please contact:
Vassily Fadeev, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 11 476 464