Reconnecting Families

Susie Mazaheri, Restoring Family Links caseworker and Disaster Mental Health volunteer, describes her work on a particular RFL case that reestablished communication between a mother and son, separated by violence in Honduras.

The chaos and confusion that accompany war and disaster can separate families when they need each other most. Whether it’s been weeks or years, the American Red Cross can help you find and reconnect with loved ones around the world after natural disasters, armed conflict, migration or other humanitarian emergencies.

Red Cross caseworkers around the U.S. help families locate missing relatives by working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations in nearly every country around the world. Annually the American Red Cross assists more than 5,000 families trying to reconnect with their loved ones in the U.S. and around the world. There is no charge for these services. If you or someone you know has been separated from their loved ones internationally, or for additional information on the program and eligibility for services, please contact Michelle McSweeney at (312) 729-6238 or

Here's a partial listing of Restoring Family Links Program services:

Certificates of Detention
Specific to the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. Used to request documentation that someone was visited by the ICRC while in detention.
Tracing Inquiries
Used to locate family members separated internationally by armed conflict and other humanitarian emergencies. Also used to clarify or document the fate of relatives missing due to armed conflict.
Holocaust and WWII Tracing and Documentation
Families continue to be separated as a result of WWII and many survivors look to the Red Cross to locate missing loved ones and find documentation on their own and their relative’s war time experiences.
International Disaster Inquiries
International Disaster Inquiries are used to assist family members who have lost communication after the occurrence of a major natural disaster such as an earthquake or typhoon.
Migration leaves millions of people around the globe in urgent need of humanitarian assistance every year. American Red Cross caseworkers at local chapter offices help families locate missing relatives that have been separated due to migration.

Examples of the work in action:

Red Cross Chicago Reconnecting Families

Supporting our Iraqi Community: Chicago Red Cross assists with Certificate of Detention requests

The American Red Cross, Restoring Family Links program is working with a large number of Iraqi refugees dating back to the First Gulf War in 1991. The Red Cross is supporting Iraqis by assisting them in receiving documentation of the time they spent in the camps in Saudi Arabia. The Restoring Family Links program works in coordination with the ICRC to help these individuals obtain this documentation. So far, the American Red Cross has handled over 2,000 of these cases, and the caseload continues to grow. We continue to remain available to assist anyone in need of this service who meets the core eligibility criteria.