Red Cross helps renew family bonds for Democratic Republic of the Congo refugees

Topics: Africa, Finding Family
August 30, 2012

Red Cross helps renew family bonds for DRC refugees

The fighting that surrounds the areas of Rutshuru and Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has done more than just leave many dead and wounded - it has also forced families to flee from their homes in fear of suffering a similar fate.

While several countries - including Canada - have opened their borders for these refugees to find solace and start over, the separations that occurred as a result of armed conflict have left families fractured and irrevocably altered.

During this emotionally traumatic period, organizations like the Canadian Red Cross have stepped forth to lend a helping hand. The Restoring Family Links Program has allowed refugees from the DRC to reconnect with immediate family members. The program offers a range of different services, including the transmission of family messages and tracing lost loved ones.

In the aftermath of recent conflict, the DRC now constitutes 11 per cent of the Restoring Family Links Program's caseload in Canada, and numbers could continue to rise as conditions in the DRC grow more turbulent.

Between April and July 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also lent a vital degree of support for those in the DRC. Approximately 523 people afflicted with wounds were sent to treatment facilities in Goma, Beni, Butembo, Bukavu, Uvira and Fizi after being cared for by the ICRC, while 127 wounded individuals were transported directly to the hospital by the organization.

Areas of detention that have emerged within the country have been subject to ICRC visits. They have visited an estimated 10,690 people across 50 places of detention.

In addition to visiting detention facilities and giving medical support to those in the country, the ICRC supplied approximately 2,358 households across the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale with tools to till the fields around their dwellings and stimulate food production. From training to ploughing devices, seeds and mosaic-resistant cassava cuttings, the ICRC is doing more than just provide relief to a war-torn land - it's providing citizens with the resources they need to make a fresh start.

For families forced to rebuild intimate relationships spanning several continents, the joint efforts of the ICRC and Canadian Red Cross are helping to renew hope and provide an optimistic picture of the future. 

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