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Thousands remain missing: British Red Cross marks the International Day of the Disappeared

19 August 2010
For further information Henry Makiwa
Contact number HMakiwa@redcross.org.uk / 0207877 7479

The British Red Cross is currently trying to trace the relatives of over 1,000 families who have been separated as a result of the conflicts in countries including: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq.
This comes as the charity marks this year’s International Day of the Disappeared on Monday 30 August 2010 with a series of events to be held across the country. The day is a reminder that hundreds of thousands of families across the world are still unaware of the fate of their loved ones missing in conflicts.

 “Tens of thousands of people are estimated to be missing globally as a result of armed conflict or other situations of violence. The British Red Cross’ tracing and message service, however, also works to locate relatives who have been separated from each other as a result of natural disaster, or migration,” said Nev Jefferies, head of the British Red Cross international tracing and message service.

“In 2009 we traced 363 people, but we know many others still remain without news and today is an opportunity to show our solidarity with them,” he added.

At events to be held across the country, the British Red Cross will be giving away symbolic forget-me-not bookmarks embedded with flower seeds and asking the public to sow them on 30th August in memory of those who are still missing. Details, an interactive global map and a quiz game are also available on the Red Cross website: redcross.org.uk/trace

For more information on the events, how to get involved and activities taking place, please visit: redcross.org.uk/trace

The International Day of the Disappeared on August 30 is a United Nations-recognised annual commemoration day for individuals who have gone missing in armed conflicts or other situations of violence and whose fate is unresolved. For more information please visit www.redcross.org.uk.

Notes to editors

For case studies, interviews, human interest stories of affected people’s lives and further information, please contact Henry Makiwa (HMakiwa@redcross.org.uk / 0207877 7479).

The British Red Cross works worldwide to discover the fate of those missing as a result of war or disaster and, where possible, to restore contact between them and their families. Through the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the British Red Cross is able to help trace these missing family members by sending information given to us by relatives in the UK to the International Committee of the Red Cross or to the relevant National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society overseas. This information is then used to search for missing family members. In addition the British Red Cross helps families stay in touch when normal means of communication have broken down because of conflict or disaster through the exchange of family news in Red Cross messages.

Some key events to commemorate the day near you:

  • 23 August 2010, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool. Slavery Remembrance Day Festival – British Red Cross stall open between 11am-4pm with information on ITMS and Day of the Disappeared. Seeded bookmarks for general public available.
  • 23 August 2010, Newcastle. British Red Cross stall open at Newcastle Central Library to raise awareness of the Day of the Disappeared,
  • 26 August 2010, Brixton, London. Stall at Refugee Council Day Centre.
  • 26 August Hull. Hull City of Sanctuary meeting with refugees and asylum seekers will recognise the Day of the Disappeared.
  • 26 August 2010, Arboretum Park, Nottingham. ITMS Remembrance Garden meeting. This event will include speeches and official opening by the Lord Mayor.

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