Somaliland: SRCS/ICRC Step Up Family Links Restoration

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By: M. A. EggeTracing Officer A Saeed

Somalilandsun – Citizens this week herein pays tribute to the noble work the International Committee of The Red Cross in conjunction with local National Red Crescent/Red Cross Societies do to restore family links allover the world that ought to be lauded. It is in this context that we had an interview with Abdillahi Said Muhummed, ICRC/SRCS Tracing Coordinator (Head of Family Links) such that light could be shade on these had tasks.

The ICRC and Local National Red Cresent Societies from Somaliland/Somalia, Jibouti and Yemen met for a one day meeting at Borama in Awdal to step up the efforts on family links restoration.

Lately, migration has compounded on the situation such as many individuals leaving their homes have either perished or lost, further burdening family restoration efforts nobly done.

To this end, in order to highlight the work done by these societies for the human kind all over the world, it is imperative that Somalilanders and people in the region should acknowledge the services and praise the efforts.

Abdillahi has been working with the ICRC/SRCS as a Tracing Coordinator (Head of the Family Links) Program for 23 years, based in Hargeisa. His job mainly consists of traveling both extensively throughout the entire regions of Somaliland and intensively by visiting almost every village therein. Having created a tangible network of volunteers over the years to aid in the restoration of family links, much of SRCS /ICRC tracing of family members has been quite successful.

The situation

Armed conflict other situations of violence and disasters leave more than physical wounds:

Family members caTracing beneficiaryn be separated in minutes, sometimes leading to long years of anguish and uncertainty about the fate of children, spouses or parents. Migration may also lead to separation and loss of contact between family members.

Trying to locate people and put them back into contact with their relatives is a major challenge for the ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world. The work includes tracing people, exchanging family messages, reuniting families and seeking to clarify the fate of those who remain missing.

WHAT DOES THE ICRC DO TO REUNITE FAMILIES?

In close partnership with the SRCS, the ICRC has been helping restore family link in Somaliland/Somalia since 1977. The SRCS has 23 in all regions of the country. In Somaliland has 6 regions working to help the people to re-establish and maintain ties with their relatives in Somalia/Somaliland and around the world.

How does it work?

The ICRC and SRCS offer different services to people who have lost touch in Somaliland/Somalia. These services include:-

The Red Cross/Red Crescent Family Messages: these are open letters that allow people to send family news when they know the location of their relatives, but the traditional means of communication have been disrupted. In 2012, 19000 families Somalilander/Somalia exchanged family messages with relatives both abroad and in the country.

Tracing requests: this is a service that helps people who wish to locate and restore contact with their relatives but do not know their address. In 2012, 543 persons opened new tracing requests for their missing family members, white 1370 requests are still pending from previous years. 300 persons could be traced successfully and put in touch with their families.

The Somali family links website includes those names broadcast by the ICRC/BBC missing person programme (please see ICRC-BBC Box) and any other tracing requests. In 2012 the ICRC published the names of 10,000 missing people on the family links website, where anybody in the Somali Diaspora At an IDP camp in Hargeisaaround the world can log in and search.

Travel documents: This is a document issued by the ICRC on the request of an embassy, when a person lacks documents (passport/I.D.) enabling them to travel home to their country of origin to be reunited with their families.

How do Somalis access these services in Somalia?

In Somalia/Somaliland, people can obtain access to tracing services through the Somali SRCS field workers and network of volunteers, or by going directly to the 23 tracing offices. Somalis abroad can contact the closest ICRC OR Red Cross/ Red Crescent national society in their country of residence.

After two decades of conflict, tens of thousands of Somalis have been separated from their families.

Each week the ICRC provides 125 names of missing people to the BBC Somali Service to read out.

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