Burundi: Reconnected Families Separated by Conflict

A volunteer with the Burundi Red Cross delivers Red Cross Messages by bicycle to those who have been separated from their family by conflict.

Since its independence from Belgium in 1962, the nation of Burundi has been witness to years of violence. The most recent genocide in 1993 caused hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in neighboring countries, including Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. During their flight, and their subsequent return following the end of the civil war in 2005, many of these refugees became separated from their families, leaving them without a way to reconnect.

The confusion of conflict and the often poor communications infrastructure of refugee camps can separate families for months, years, possibly even decades. With the help of the Red Cross, family members can reconnect to one another through the Red Cross Restoring Family Links services which provide tracing and messaging services to separated families. Staff and volunteers, like the one seen in the video, work to locate family members in order to re-establish communication and restore the peace of mind that comes with knowing the whereabouts and state-of-being of loved ones. It is the hope of the organization that through this work, all families links severed by the destruction and chaos of conflict, disaster, and migration will be restored.

American 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. For more information, visit www.redcross.org.