Rwanda: Helping Burundian Refugees Reconnect with their Families

Rwanda: Helping Burundian Refugees Reconnect with their Families

More than 55,000 Burundian refugees call Mahama camp home. The main camp located in the eastern province of Rwanda accommodates people who fled the political unrest in Burundi, which began in April 2015.

As part of the ICRC's Restoring Family Links program in the Great Lakes region, the Kigali Delegation distributed SIM cards to Burundian refugees in the Mahama camp. The idea is to make it easier for the people to directly reconnect with their families.

Now, they don't need to rely only on the existing ICRC and Red Cross phone call services offered to them in the camp as well as in the transit centers around Rwanda. They can speak to their family members left behind or living abroad, any time convenient to them.

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Finding "Papa"

Finding "Papa"

Brigitte arrived on the doorstep of the American Red Cross, Southern Arizona Chapter, in September 2016 with the knowledge, hope and need for support to locate her missing father.  She had recalled seeing Red Cross workers opening cases for families who had been separated from their loved ones due to armed conflict and violence in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Life on the run started in 2003 when Brigitte was 17 years old.  Her father was placed on a target list because of his differing vision for the future of the Country.  Brigitte, her father, and sister were able to flee to the nearby capital city of Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, where they attempted to reestablish their lives.  Thankfully, they were able to live together for a while.  Brigitte was able to make some money by baking and selling bread, but the danger was ever present.  Eventually, groups who had originally targeted her father in Kinshasa now offered a bounty for his return.

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A Mother's Love is Timeless

A Mother's Love is Timeless

In early March 2017, Hawa Mailon met with Elissa Maish, the Red Cross Restoring Family Links Caseworker in Tucson, Arizona.  Hawa’s story involved a first-hand account of most horrific epidemic of the decade and included an ending that no one really anticipated.  

Hawa was born and grew up in Guinea Conakry on the west coast of Africa.  She married and had two sons, Oumar and Mohammed.  For several years after the death of her husband in 2005, Hawa was able to keep her small family together. Eviction from their apartment forced them to split up. Each lived with different friends in various locations. They eventually lost touch with each other. Oumar was only 7 years old.    In 2016, Hawa gained refugee status and arrived in Tucson. She never stopped thinking and worrying about her sons.  In March 2017, at an informal get-together in Tucson, she lamented the loss of her sons to a young man from Guinea.  She was about to experience the serendipity of receiving information that might lead to her son. 

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A Message of Hope for Rose

A Message of Hope for Rose

Rose Gonsa Minga and her family fled war-torn Congo seeking a better life.  Instead, they were unexpectedly torn apart.

The family left the DRC capital of Kinshasa on a grueling journey of more than 1,000 miles. Rose was pregnant for most of the journey. Once arrived in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, Rose was hospitalized due to complications, remaining there for six months. Unable to care for her two younger children, they stayed with friends.  Her eldest daughter had remained back in the DRC awaiting instructions to rejoin the rest of the family.

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Your Phone is now a Refugee's Phone

Your Phone is now a Refugee's Phone

Hundreds of thousands of refugees continue to flee conflict and political instability in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Many times, one of the only items they carry with them, their only safety net, is their phone. Phones provide access to information and connection to loved ones. Learn just how important these phones can be by watching the following video (best viewed from a mobile device).

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