Every year, thousands of family members are separated by conflicts, disasters or migration. People suffer terribly when they lose contact with their loved ones and don’t know where they are or whether they are safe.

The ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies work together around the world to locate people and put them back into contact with their relatives. This work includes looking for family members, restoring contact, reuniting families and seeking to clarify the fate of those who remain missing.


The ICRC’s role in Restoring Family Links

The ICRC is responsible for ensuring the operation of the Central Tracing Agency (CTA) as provided for in the Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC also has the lead role within the Movement with regard to helping people separated from their families or without news of them following conflicts and other situations of violence, natural or man-made disasters, or migration as well as in other situations of humanitarian need. It works together with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and coordinates their international work in this field. This work is referred to as Restoring Family Links.

Through its delegations, the ICRC carries out direct action to help separated families whenever required and possible. An extensive, long-term field presence and close cooperation with National Societies place the ICRC in close proximity to individuals and populations.

The CTA acts as coordinator and technical adviser to National Societies and governments. It decides what action is to be taken in situations of armed conflict or other situations of violence in order to restore family links. It ensures coherence within the Family Links Network and provides methods and guidelines for National Societies. It also establishes working practices for tracing services and helps strengthen the Restoring Family Links capacities of National Societies through training seminars and meetings arranged to share knowledge and experience.

Please see https://familylinks.icrc.org/en/Pages/home.aspx for more information in this regard.