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Almaz's story: reunited with her daughters

Female silhouette against sky© InfoWhen Almaz Berhanu Yesbasa fled her home in Ethiopia in fear of her life, leaving behind her husband and four daughters, she didn't know if she'd ever see them again.

"There was a lot of fighting and I had to leave for political reasons," Almaz said. "After arriving in the UK I didn't know where the rest of my family was, as after I left they were also forced to flee from our home.

"When I claimed asylum, I received support from a British Red Cross orientation project, which was how I found out about the tracing and message services.

Emotional reunion

"At first I was worried about giving information about my family, but the Red Cross was very helpful. They explained they only share the details with other Red Cross people and no one else. But I still never thought I would get to meet my daughters again."

It took about ten months for the Red Cross to trace two of Almaz's daughters - Maza, 14, and Mihret, 15, who were still in Ethiopia.

"We applied to the Home Office for visas and in December 2006 - more than two years after I had run from my country - I met my two youngest daughters at Heathrow Airport," Almaz continued. "I couldn't believe it. We were all crying and screaming. It was a very happy moment."

Giving comfort and support

By this time the Red Cross had also put Almaz in touch with her other two daughters, Atsegenet, 17, and Frehiwot, 18, who were in Kenya.

"We were still waiting to hear if the Home Office would allow them to join us and I was worried it would take ages, but it happened quicker than I thought," Almaz explained. "The Red Cross' support is really good and I was comforted and encouraged a lot through this time.

"I would recommend anyone who wants to find someone in their family to go and talk to the Red Cross."

The search goes on

Almaz is now reunited with her four daughters and lives with them in Portsmouth, but she remains distressed that she has still not spoken to her husband since she left Ethiopia.

She said: "Being separated from my daughters was very hard. I don't like to think about it because it brings back a lot of bad memories. I heard about lots of people we lost; if the government takes hold of them they can just disappear.

"My daughters have been found, so I'm happy. But I am still struggling to find my husband. I don't know where he is and I am stressed. But we are slowly hearing about where he might be in Ethiopia and I'm just hoping we can get enough information to him so we can be reunited."


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