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British Red Cross launches creative writing competition to mark International Day of the Disappeared

Wednesday 10 August
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Henry Makiwa,, 0207 877 7479 or out of hours 07659 145095

 The British Red Cross has launched a creative writing competition to commemorate people who have gone missing throughout the world in situations of violence and armed conflict.
This comes as the Red Cross marks this year’s International Day of the Disappeared on Tuesday 30 August 2011, with a series of events to be held across the country.
The nationwide writing competition – on the theme of ‘The Disappeared’ – will take entries in various literary genres including poetry, prose, comic strips and short stories.  Compositions must be original and must be submitted by 30 August.
Nev Jefferies, head of international tracing and message services, said: “We are excited about this competition and looking forward to receiving many entries. A compendium of the top entries will be compiled and later published as a book, which all authors of published entries will receive for free.

The day presents a stark reminder that thousands of families across the world are still unaware of the fate of family members missing through conflict.

“We traced 400 people last year, and we’re currently trying to trace the relatives of 1,252 families from countries all across the world, including Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia,” Nev said.

“While it’s hard to imagine what another year of waiting for news and resolution means to the families of the disappeared, this is a time for the Red Cross to show solidarity with them,” he explained.

The International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August 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.
At events across the country, the Red Cross will hand out ‘forget-me-not’ flower-shaped bookmarks in memory of those who are still missing.

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Notes to editors

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

For interviews, case studies and photography please contact: Henry Makiwa on 020 7877 7479 or

The winning entry will receive a £50 cash prize and a £50 book voucher.
Events to commemorate the day in the UK will be held in the following areas:
Leeds: An information evening about the International Tracing and Message Service for community groups, refugee organisations and service providers as well as Red Cross staff.
When and where: Tuesday 30 August, British Red Cross office, Armley, Leeds
Hull: Multi-faith service involving the local BME community and other partner agencies and gathering of asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced missing relatives overseas.
When and where: Thursday 1 September, Drop In, Princes Avenue, Hull
Milton Keynes: Red Cross allotment planting ceremony
When and where: Tuesday 30 August, Wolverton, Milton Keynes
Wrexham: Information stand
When and where: Tuesday 30 August – Friday 2 September, Wrexham Library