October 3, 2012
For further information
Henry Makiwa 020 7877 7479 / HMakiwa@redcross.org.uk
Out of hours media mobile: 0771 0391703
As fighting escalates in DR Congo, the British Red Cross seeks to reunite families
The British Red Cross is on hand to restore links between Congolese nationals living in the UK and their loved ones affected by the fighting in the central African country.
Following the escalation of fighting in the eastern parts of Congo, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in camps, while many others have sought safety in neighbouring countries.
Nev Jefferies, the British Red Cross head of international tracing and message services (ITMS), said: “The security situation in the east of the country has deteriorated, forcing thousands to leave their homes with no news of their loved ones.
"Our colleagues in the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Congolese Red Cross are assisting Congolese to restore contact and reunite in the Congo; we too in the British Red Cross can help people in the UK to reconnect with their families and friends affected by the fighting," he added.
Aimee Ntabarusha Mungu who escaped from Congo after years of political persecution to settle in Glasgow, was reunited with her family with the help of the British Red Cross ITMS teams.
Aimee said: "It was so hard to be here without them. A friend looked after them but they were always in danger as the government was after me. I wanted them here, safe with me.
"When I finally saw them at the airport it was like being transported to a fantasy world. I dropped my bag and threw my arms around them. Even then I couldn't believe it. To see them again was the best thing that has ever happened," she explained.
Since the beginning of the year, teams of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have reunited 144 unaccompanied children with their families.
Fighting between Congolese government forces and rebels in Kivu, has displaced over 220 000 people internally since April this year. Over 3000 others have crossed into Uganda in the past week alone, according to UN figures.
Jeffries continued, “People looking to enquire about our free ITMS services may visit our offices across the country, contact us by phone or visit our website for further details: http://www.redcross.org.uk/tracing.
“In spite of the difficulties that may arise to reach certain affected areas, we deliver a secure, impartial and confidential service. Our teams will also help you regardless of your religion, your clan, or your political persuasion,” he explained.
In the past year, the British Red Cross has traced 283 people, and the organisation is currently trying to trace the relatives of 1,319 families from countries all across the world, including: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, and Iraq.
For more information, go to www.redcross.org.uk/tracing
Notes to editors
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/britishredcross