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 weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

Announcement: This is technically “last week in RFL News.” The blog was experiencing technical difficulty at the end of last week, but the glitch has been worked out and the blog is back up and running! I apologize if this interfered with anyone’s viewing the blog or using it for outreach purposes. In the future, "This Week in Restoring Family Links News" will continue to be published on Fridays.

Red Cross Movement: Throughout the week, the RFL Twitterfeed highlighted the global humanitarian work being done by the ICRC and Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. As the Philippines continues to recover after Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines Red Cross and British Red Cross have pledged over $38 million dollars for recovery and rehabilitation programs aimed at rebuilding the livelihoods of those affected by the disaster. We also highlighted the ongoing humanitarian work of the ICRC in Central African Republic and the organization’s call for more aid. Domestically, the American Red Cross is doing amazing work to reconnect families separated by conflict, disaster, and migration as well as to train those conducting the casework. The work of the Omaha chapter to reconnect families separated by conflict in Sudan was highlighted in the news. While the client has not yet been put in contact with her family members, she holds onto the hope that the Red Cross/Crescent network will be able to re-establish communication. From teaching caseworkers how to instruct others the in’s and out’s of RFL casework (see above video) to providing outreach tools for reaching out to partner organizations and refugee and migrant communities, the Restoring Family Links program is busy strengthening its capacity to better serve those in need.

Burma: Decades of violence in Burma (or Myanmar) generated thousands of refugees, some of whom have been resettled in the United States and have the need to be reconnected to family in refugee camps or in Burma through the Red Cross network. As occasional violence and political tension continue to be issues, it is important to highlight the nation’s, and its refugee’s, current events. Last week, Burma began its first census in decades. While the government initially promised to allow people to self-identify in terms of ethnic identity, there have been reports that the Rohingya are not being counted unless they identify themselves as Bengali. Last week, UNICEF held a two-day conference in the nation focusing on the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially children as it was found that one in three IDPs are vulnerable minors. Domestically, a story from Kentucky was highlighted discussing one refugee from Burma who is working as a translator to help fellow refugees navigate their new lives in the US.

Unaccompanied Minors: While in the past, the RFL blog and Twitterfeed have primarily focused on unaccompanied minor issues in the Americas (especially Mexico and the US), last week the topic was widened to include Malta. Over the past couple years, Malta has witnessed an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors attempting to migrate to Europe. Despite the availability of other facilities and Malta’s obligations to provide protection for unaccompanied migrant children, the nation had been keeping the children in detention for the duration of the age determination process, which can take months, or even years. Last week, Malta’s Prime Minister committed to end these practices and adhere to the procedures established by both the UN and the EU.

Volunteer Appreciation Week: This week is National Volunteer Week! As a part of an organization founded on the principle of volunteerism, the Restoring Family Links blog will be highlighting the work of its volunteers all week long. Below is a video of Susie Mazaheri, RFL Advocate and volunteer for the Greater Chicago Region. She shares the story of an unaccompanied minor who she, along with the Red Cross network, was able to reconnect with his mother in Honduras and then eventually with his aunt in the United States. For the whole story, please watch the video below. And for more information on Susie Mazaheri and our other RFL Advocates, please click here to visit the blog’s Advocates page.