This Week in Restoring Family Links News

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a new weekly blog segment that will highlight and summarize some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

International Women’s Day: Last Saturday, March 8th, marked International Women’s Day. While the Restoring Family Links blog took this opportunity to explore women and migration, the humanitarian contributions of Clara Barton, and the role of women in maintaining family links, many organizations and news agencies participated in the day by highlighting the work of women and the continuing struggle for equality. To set the stage for why a continued focus on women’s rights is so important, a Forbes article highlights that while there are great achievements to celebrate in the realm of women’s rights, there are also specific points on which equality needs to improve. Hilary Clinton spoke at the UN to remind the world that equality for women “remains the great unfinished business of the 21st century” and urged for great participation and visibility for women on the international scene. While talking in numbers and making calls to action is an important part of International Women’s Day, it is also critical to highlight the stories of women refugees and migrants. Early in the week, the RFL program shared a story of a woman refugee in a camp along the Thai-Burmese border. Her story along with so many other stories of women refugees, displaced persons, and migrants highlight the importance of supporting women. For more on International Women's Day, please click here.

Migrants: In addition to the news relating to women and migration, a lot of time was devoted this week to looking at the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the US-Mexico border and the ways in which current immigration law separates families. Two weeks after a report launched by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) focusing on the needs of unaccompanied minors once they reach the US, UNHCR launched a report this week exploring the factors driving this migration. One of the most memorable quotes from the launch came from a mother encouraging her child to find safety and a better life in the US: “If you leave, no one will shoot you.” This report generated a plethora of news stories highlighting the large numbers of unaccompanied minors entering the US, with estimates this year of 60,000. Also in migrant news, the Bring Them Home” campaign sought to help 150 people reunite with their families after they were separated due to current deportation practices. One story of a father separated from his two daughters highlights the difficulties migrants face when trying to reunite with their family members. While all these reports and stories focus on migration issues in the US and Central America, it is important to underscore that more and more unaccompanied minors are forced to flee their homes for their safety all over the world. This story from South Sudan highlights the plight of children forced to flee the conflict there without the protection of a guardian.

Ukraine: As tensions remain high in Ukraine preceding the upcoming referendum in Crimea, it is important that international humanitarian law be promoted and respected. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent has taken to social media many times this week to promote the adherence to international humanitarian law (IHL) by all parties involved. While promoting IHL, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world have also showed their support by donating funds to the Ukrainian Red Cross to help their response teams to provide aid to the wounded. It is also important to highlight the fact that in the midst of this conflict, families continue to be separated and persons who have gone missing are yet to be found.

RFL Advocates: Finally, the RFL program is proud to announce the launch of a new page on the RFL blog: RFL Advocates. The RFL Advocate Committee is a national committee under the International Services Department of the American Red Cross.  It was formed in 2012 and grew out of a previously established Committee that was focused on supporting Restoring Family Links services for Holocaust survivors. The new Committee has broadened its focus to serve all Restoring Family Links constituents including refugees and immigrants in the United States that have been separated from their family members internationally due to war, disaster, migration and other humanitarian emergencies. To learn more about the committee and its members, please visit the new RFL Advocates page!