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A meeting of substance

Oct 07,2017 - Last updated at Oct 07,2017

A regional meeting on how to assist in restoring family links disrupted by war, natural disasters or migration, held recently in Amman, could not have been timelier.

The gathering, organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Jordanian Red Crescent Society, saw the participants exchange experience, best practices and lessons learnt with the aim of strengthening cooperation on family links issues, as well as consulting on the new Restoring Family Links strategy that the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will implement as of 2019, 

ICRC, founded in 1863 with a mandate to protect victims of international and internal armed conflicts, including war wounded, prisoners, refugees, civilians and other non-combatants, and three time winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been instrumental, among myriad other things, to helping families reunite by helping with the search for missing persons in armed conflicts.

With over a million-and-a-half Syrian refugees in the Kingdom, the work of these charitable organisations is greatly needed and appreciated.

As the head of the ICRC delegation in Jordan said, “behind every missing person or separated family, there are loved ones looking for answers, whether they are separated by conflict or natural disaster or migration. We must do our utmost to establish their whereabouts, restore contact between them and if need be, reunite them”.

The global Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement network on Restoring Family Links plays an important role in helping authorities — which, in accordance with international law, have the primary responsibility to protect family unity and prevent family separation — through its family links website, by addressing the needs of concerned family members.

Man-made or natural disasters produce untold suffering; the worst is probably separation of family members.

Helping reestablish contact between people or finding their whereabouts is of immense help to those affected.

It is often a mammoth task to try to find and reconnect family members, but this is what the organisers of the meeting in Amman are hoping to do, and it is greatly needed in the troubled Middle East.

The odds of success of this humanitarian endeavour are daunting, but with determination and, often, sacrifices, these humanitarian organisations beat the odds.

ICRC in Jordan, in cooperation with the Jordan Red Crescent, enabled close to 10,000 Syrian refugees in Zaatari and Azraq camps to make free-of-charge phone calls, helping them reestablish and maintain contact with family members in Syria and elsewhere.

The organisation also issued 78 travel documents to refugees, upon the request of the UNHCR and certain embassies, to help them resettle or rejoin their families in third countries.


Their joint effort gives hope that the suffering of the separated family members will be put to an end to even if the madness that is called war will take some time to stop.

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