The British Red Cross is seeking to raise awareness of its work helping Somali nationals in the UK, to restore family links with relatives in Somalia through its International Tracing and Message Service (ITMS).
ITMS is a unique, free and confidential service, which works to help people re-establish contact with their families across the world. This is possible thanks to the well-established international network of Red Crescent and Red Cross Societies.
Amina Hussein, the British Red Cross senior ITMS caseworker said: “We understand how difficult and painful it can be to lose contact with a loved one. In Somalia this is a reality that many have to live with; this year alone fighting has displaced more than 270,000 people.
“We would encourage any Somali nationals seeking to restore contact with their loved ones back home, to contact our free and confidential service. As a neutral organisation, the Red Cross is supporting Somali people in the UK to reconnect with their families regardless of religion, clan, or political persuasions,” she continued.
In 2010, the British Red Cross traced 400 people and is currently actively trying to trace the relatives of 1,252 families from countries across the globe, including Afghanistan , Eritrea and Somalia. British Red Cross’ work is particularly crucial as authoritative reports confirm that the situation in Somalia “ remains highly critical with hundreds of thousands of Somalis are still displaced from their homes in search of security and food.
Deca Ibrahim Osman was this year put back in contact with her children after three years of separation having fled violence in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
She said: “Hurt as I was to see some of my closest family members killed during the fighting, going for three years without seeing my children was a horrendous experience. The British Red Cross was one of the organisation that helped me trace my family and attain some peace of mind after I was reconnected with my kids. I am fortunate to have my family back together and can only wish that others seeking the same may be assisted.”
Mr. Munye Alawi Kassim who left Somalia in 1999, also managed to successfully trace his two children, Alia and Ahmed with the help of the British Red Cross this year.
He said: “I went for eleven years without seeing my two children, and it was the most painful time of my life. I thank the Red Cross for helping me lift off a heavy rock off my chest by tracing my family; and I would urge all fellow Somalis missing their loved ones to visit a Red Cross centre near them as they may find the help they seek”.
To find missing relatives, the British Red Cross requires as much information as possible about an individual’s family. The charity helps service users fill out a ‘tracing form’ and sends this information to the Red Cross or Red Crescent National Society – such as the Somali Red Crescent – where the sought person is thought to be in, or to the International Committee of the Red Cross, who then use that information to try to trace the missing individuals.
For more information on the British Red Cross please visit: http://www.redcross.org.uk/somalia or follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/britishredcross