Humanitarian Consequences of Family Separation and People Going Missing

British Red Cross, ICRC, Red Cross EU Office, Swedish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross
Publication Year
Global / Europe and Central Asia / Asia and the Pacific
Thematic Area
The Search Process / Families
Psychosocial Support / Protecting/Restoring Family Links / Mental Health / Family Needs / Central Tracing Agency (CTA)
Open access

All people go through tremendous anxiety and suffering when they are separated from family members and do not know when and where they would be able to reunite. Family reunion is an aspiration that many families live with for years as they endure periods of extended separation and uncertainty. For a parent, a child, a sibling, a wife or a husband, to be able to reunite with their loved one is often more important than water, food and shelter. Family members of separated persons will not stop trying to reunite with their loved ones and they use their resources and may furthermore put themselves and other family members at risk to achieve this.

This publication aims to increase awareness on the humanitarian consequences of family separation and people going missing due to war, conflict and perilous migratory trails. It further attempts to shed light on the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) in this field, explains how the Movement provides this service and why it is so important to so many people. This publication is based on the experiences shared by the British Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Red Cross EU Office, the Swedish Red Cross and the Swiss Red Cross as part of different initiatives aimed at sharing and developing their engagement and role in protecting, preserving and restoring family links and facilitating family life and family unity.