Fourteen Rwandan children have been repatriated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Rwanda, where they were reunited with their families. Scattered by the violence that has gripped the region for several years, the families were at last reunited thanks to the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to trace the children’s relatives. This hard work is paying off; 50 Rwandan children have now been reunited with their families since the beginning of the year.
“Today, after seven years apart, 15-year-old Jean-Claude and his 12-year-old brother Petit Olivier have at last been reunited with their mother,” said Elias Wieland, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Rwanda. “The boys became separated from their mother in the DRC in 2007, during clashes between an armed group and the army. They were taken in by a foster family.”
With the boys in the DRC and the mother in Rwanda, they turned to the ICRC in their bid to find each other. Unfortunately the names the boys had provided were wrong and every attempt to contact their relatives, such as through Red Cross messages, failed. It was only when the names of the parents and the children were broadcast on the radio that ICRC staff were at last able to track down the mother, who was in Gasoro, Kigoma sector, Nyanza district, Southern province.
“We and our colleagues in the DRC are naturally delighted about this outcome,” said Elias Wieland. “But we mustn’t forget that there are hundreds of other Rwandan children, whether in Rwanda, the DRC or other countries in the region, who are still waiting to be reunited with their families.”
In Ireland the Irish Red Cross offer a free Restoring Family Links service designed to enable members of dispersed and separated families to exchange news, to rediscover each other’s whereabouts and to be reunited.
Information on the Tracing and Messaging services can be found here, in the following six languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Somali and Russian.
Pictured: Four of the repatriated children © ICRC