To mark International Day of the Disappeared, 30th August 2016, the Irish Red Cross is promoting Trace the Face an online tool aimed at helping migrants locate missing loved ones.
Trace the Face (www.tracetheface.org) allows anyone separated from their loved ones to search for them online or post their own details so that their families know they are safe.
Trace the Face has received more than 585,700 visits since its initial launch in September 2013, with more than 1,400 people having uploaded their photo in the hope of finding their family. The majority of people using the Red Cross tool are from Afghanistan (990), Senegal (106) and Syria (99).
Nabila Karmi*, a Syrian refugee, lost contact with her parents while fleeing to Europe in 2012. After looking for them in vain for more than a year, she published her picture on Trace the Face. “I couldn’t believe it. It all went so fast.” she cheerfully recalls. “The Red Cross simply gave me [my dad’s] number. I called and then we just cried for a while.”
Trace the Face is one of several tools used by the Irish Red Cross Restoring Family Links team to re-establish contact with family members after separation due to armed conflict, political upheaval, natural disaster, migration and other humanitarian crises. Restoring Family Links is a free service which incorporates Tracing, Messaging and Family Reunification. Services are designed to enable members of dispersed and separated families to exchange news, to rediscover each other’s whereabouts and to be reunited. The Irish Red Cross received 315 Tracing requests in 2015.
Haji Mohammed, from Afghanistan, lost contact with his son while he was traveling to Europe. "It's as if a part of my body were missing." He explains, "His mother and I haven't been able to rest since he disappeared and we won't until we know what's happened. Like him, many others have lost contact with a relative while migrating to Europe.
www.tracetheface.org is a website run by the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. The Irish Red Cross is one of 28 National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies participating in this program.
Trace the Face allows people trying to find their families to upload a photo of themselves to increase the chances of being recognised. The only information published is their photo and the nature of the family link to their missing relative, all other information, like name and location, is kept confidential.
*The name has been changed for protection reasons.