Somalia

Restoring contact between families separated by conflict in Somalia

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As the fighting in Somalia continues the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is working to restore contact between families separated by the conflict. The International Tracing and Message Service (ITMS) works worldwide to restore and maintain contact by exchanging messages between loved ones and those searching for missing relatives.

The Somali Red Crescent Society, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has 22 offices in all regions of Somalia working to help people reestablish and maintain ties with their relatives. Other national societies, including the British Red Cross, are also offering help searching for people in Somalia.

An ICRC website also allows people to register they are safe, while those looking for loved ones can check the list for the names and contact details of relatives with whom they have lost contact. The service is free and available to people in the conflict area and throughout the world and can be accessed at www.familylinks.icrc.org.

There is also a joint ICRC / BBC missing person's programme broadcast six times each week by the BBC short wave service in Somalia during which the names of missing people are read out.

"With the resumption of violence there is an increasing chance that families might lose contact as they try to escape. The Tracing and Message services provided by the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement will ensure that if people are finding it difficult to communicate all hope is not lost and people can turn to us for assistance," says Nev Jeffries, Head of International Tracing and Message at the British Red Cross.

In the UK, the British Red Cross Tracing and Message service is available for people wishing to trace and restore contact with relatives in Somalia. For more information visit www.redcross.org.uk or call 0845 053 2004.

Notes to editors

The information given on the Family Links website is not confidential - anyone can read it. It is the responsibility of those registering to ensure that no harm is caused by registration. Neither the ICRC nor any component of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement can accept responsibility for any consequences to an individual arising from registration.

People who have re-established contact and therefore wish their names to be removed from the list should follow the instructions on the webpage.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

For further information: Jack Durrell, Contact number 020 7877 7043