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Restoring Family Links

Migration, conflict and disaster separate families and can lead to a lifetime of uncertainty about the fate of relatives.

The Irish Red Cross is part of an international network which traces separated relatives, restores contact and reunites families.

This free service, known as Restoring Family Links (RFL), is co-ordinated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

RFL has succeeded in tracing hundreds of thousands of people who have left their place of origin, sought asylum abroad, disappeared or are in prisons, hospitals, refugee camps and shelters etc.

This service has also prevented separation, disappearance and clarified the fate of persons reported missing at an early stage.

We can do this because of our unique status as a trusted, impartial intermediary and provider of humanitarian assistance. This gives us special access to government departments, relief agencies, camps, hospitals, shelters, prisons and other places of detention.

We have trained specialists in many countries around the world and at RFL headquarters in Geneva. They are deployed on the ground in places of refuge, conflict and disaster using our local, national and international network to procure information for separated families.

If you are considering using this service, please see the resources section to the right before proceeding.


RFL: There are four ways of using the Restoring Family Links service.

1. Online: When a large-scale emergency occurs, you can go to the dedicated website and submit information about the people you are looking for or, if you have become separated, you can register your location.

The ICRC Family Links Website can be found here.

2. Tracing: To make a tracing request you can complete a tracing form and post to us at 16 Merrion Square, Dublin 2 or arrange an appointment by contacting Jennifer on (01) 642-4600 or at restoringfamilylinks@redcross.ie. Note meetings are strictly by appointment.

Download a tracing form in: English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, French and Somali.

3. Messaging service: Our special access and reach means we can pass on your personal messages to relatives in detention centres and places where communication systems have broken down.

Request a Red Cross Message form here.

4. Travel Documents: If you are a refugee or are displaced or stateless and in need of a document to travel to Ireland, we may be able to assist you.  

Further resources

Useful Information for refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland 

More about Restoring Family Links, the Tracing Service and the Central Tracing Agency

Examples of Tracing and Family Reunion Stories

The ICRC Family Links Website can be found here