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Winners of the International Day of the Disappeared literary competition announced

22 August 2012

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Jen Corlew 020 7877 7095 
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The British Red Cross has announced the winners of its literary competition whose theme, “Missing” was designed to mark the International Day of the Disappeared (30th August).

Clavance Lim won the competition with his short story, Escape. He said: “I’m honoured to have my entry selected, and will be deeply humbled if my story can help increase awareness of the plight of missing people.”

Clavance added: “The work of the Red Cross is truly inspiring – and in this age of social media and information, we can all do our part and work towards making the world a better place.”

All entries including stories, poems or personal accounts were required to be no more than 500 words. There are two categories: adult and young persons aged 16 or under.

Colleen McCleery (14), from Northern Ireland, won the junior category for her story Where Have They Gone?

The winning entries in each category will receive a £100 Amazon gift voucher. Two runners-up in each category will receive a £50 Amazon gift voucher.

Across the country, the Red Cross will hold events on 30 August and hand out ‘forget-me-not’ flower-shaped bookmarks in memory of those who are still missing. 

Nev Jefferies, head of international tracing and message services (ITMS), said: “We traced 283 people last year, and we’re currently trying to trace the relatives of 1,319 families from countries all across the world, including: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, and Iraq.”

He added: “For the Red Cross, this is a day when we can show solidarity with families who are, for one more year, waiting for news of a loved one. Across every continent, and here in the UK too, people have to live with the pain of separation and uncertainty – this is our chance to reach out to those who may need our help.”

The International Day of the Disappeared presents a stark reminder that hundreds of thousands of families across the world are still unaware of the fate of family members, missing through conflict. 

Amuun Mohamoud, 41, from Somali, had little contact with her family after she sought refuge in the UK in 2001. Having spent years thinking her mother was dead, Amuun was advised by a friend to approach the British Red Cross’ ITMS team for help.

The ITMS team took on her case in June 2011 and eight months later, in February 2012, Amuun received the phone call she had only let herself dream of – the Red Cross had traced her mother and she was still alive. 

She recalled: “The Red Cross did the most amazing thing and found her – I really did not believe they could do it, but they have made me so happy. Words cannot describe how it felt to know she was still alive.” 

Mother and daughter now speak to each other every week and have been able to send pictures through the post. They hope to one day see each other again and until then will continue to keep in touch over the phone.

Notes to editors

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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.