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Reconnecting Family Separated by War

Abdiaziz Warsame and son
I gave up until the Red Cross found her alive.

When Abdiaziz Warsame was forced to flee his home of Mogadishu, Somalia because of violent conflicts, he was thankful to be able to rescue his young son. But he was heartbroken to lose his wife, Ayan Mohamed. She was captured by militia and the family was left to fear the worst.

Father and son sought refuge in Egypt with the United Nations and six years ago were relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Abdiaziz’s son could receive medical treatment for a condition that caused brain damage and partial paralysis.

Every day without Ayan reinforced the fear and uncertainty of her fate. Then, Abdiaziz discovered the Restoring Family Links service offered by the American Red Cross. Going out on a limb, he filled out a tracing request for his wife.

The request traveled around the world – from Minneapolis, to Washington, DC, to Geneva, Switzerland, to Nairobi, Kenya – to land in the hands of a Somali Red Crescent team that eight months later found Ayan alive and still in Mogadishu.

“I gave up until the Red Cross found her alive,” he said. “I am really thankful to the Red Cross for the job they did for me and my family.”

Ayan returned her husband’s message through the Red Cross, who also gave Abdiaziz a phone card. He called her immediately. They now speak by phone every day and are making plans to bring Ayan to America to reunite the family for good.

“We married for love,” Abdiaziz says. “These six years are like 60 years. For that reason, we live when we talk to each other.”

Disasters and conflicts around the world often result in the tragic separation of families and loved ones. American Red Cross caseworkers throughout the country work with our partners in the Red Cross and Red Crescent global network to locate and deliver messages between those affected by such separations. Last year, the American Red Cross helped reconnect 997 families separated by disaster or conflict, and received inquiries about missing loved ones in 94 countries.

Learn more about the people you’ve helped all over the world in our 2012 Global Impact Report – read the report!

To help reconnect families separated by war and disaster visit the American Red Cross Holiday Catalog.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.