Guest post by Heidi Hudson, communications volunteer in British Columbia 

World Refugee Day is observed on June 20th and is dedicated to the thousands of people every year who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, disaster or migration.

The Canadian Red Cross Restoring Family Links (RFL) program works to locate people and put them back in contact with their loved ones. Every year family members are reunited thanks to the RFL program. This is one family's story. 


Losing contact with family members can cause enormous anxiety, especially in the midst of disaster or conflict. Sometimes separation will last for days or months and sometimes it will last for years, as it did for Sadia and her siblings.
 
During the civil war in Mogadishu, Somalia in the early 1990s, sudden, heavy bombing caused Sadia’s family to scatter. Terrified, everyone ran in different direction. Somehow, Sadia’s younger sister and brother got lost in the confusion. Her siblings were just toddlers at the time, and ran to a neighbour for protection, who quickly had to flee the country with her own family and Sadia’s sister and brother in tow. When they finally reached a refugee community in Egypt, the neighbor searched for the toddlers’ family, but couldn’t find them. What they didn’t know was that Sadia’s family was also searching desperately for their missing siblings.  
 
After relocating to Vancouver in 2000, Sadia decided to try looking again. “I searched everywhere for two years without success until an acquaintance suggested contacting the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program of the Red Cross,” Sadia recalls.
 
She contacted the RFL program in March of 2010 with information that her sister Nima may have gone to Egypt and sought help from the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR). It was this information that helped the Red Cross locate Nima and her brother, just one month later.
 
For the first time in over a decade Sadia heard her sisters’ voice over the first of many phone calls. Within months they were visiting and a few years later Sadia’s siblings moved to Canada so that they could live closer and reconnect as a family.
 
“Usually things take so long, but with the Red Cross everything happened so quickly. It was really good news for me and my family,” Sadia said.

War, disease and disaster all have the ability to separate families and not knowing if loved ones are safe is a heartbreaking reality for many impacted by these horrific events. This is just one example of how the Red Cross RFL program works to re-unite families and loved ones from around the world - it continues to give hope to people amidst the chaos of conflict.

Sadia with her sister
Sisters Nima (left) and Sadia (right) are both now living in Canada after being separated during the civil war in Mogadishu, Somalia. With them is Nima's daughter, Nawal.