Canadian Red Cross highlights family reunification program during World Refugee Week

Topics: National, Migrant and Refugee Services
June 17, 2013

(OTTAWA) – The Canadian Red Cross plays an integral role in the safety, protection and well-being of refugees around the world who have been affected by situations of conflict or disaster. One of the most important services the Society provides is Restoring Family Links, a program that helps reconnect families separated by conflict and disaster.

“The Restoring Family Links program alleviates suffering and provides comfort to refugees around the world every year,” says John L. Byrne, Director General, Disaster Management at the Canadian Red Cross.  “The confusion that accompanies humanitarian crises often separates families when they need each other the most.  Long before most survivors seek out the necessities of life – food, water or shelter – they desperately try to find their family.”

As one of the most ethnically diverse nations in the world, Canada welcomes almost a quarter of a million immigrants to Canada annually.  Each year, hundreds of people seek help from the Canadian Red Cross to re-establish contact with their family members.

“The Canadian Red Cross handled over 1,200 new cases in 2012, including both requests to trace missing family members and facilitate the exchange of Red Cross messages,” adds Byrne. “The family messages transmitted by the Red Cross can be very brief, but the three short words ‘I am alive’ may be all that is needed to ease distraught loved ones half a world away.”

Restoring or maintaining contact between people separated from relatives because of armed conflict, natural disaster or migration is a core mandated service of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Its origins is derived from International Humanitarian Law, which states that people have a “right to know” the fate of a missing relative and to be able to communicate with relatives during times of conflict.

The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 187 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Our mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.

For More information please contact:
Canadian Red Cross Media Line
(613) 740-1994