This Week in Restoring Family Links News 01/31/2015 - 02/06/2015

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.

Red Cross Reconnecting Families: Each year, the International Red Cross Movement reconnects thousands of loved ones separated by conflict, disaster, migration, and other humanitarian emergencies. A recent study done by the University of Alberta found that resettled refugees who were able to maintain contact with their family were able to build their own resiliency while adapting to their new lives in Canada. When contact has been lost, the network of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies is there to re-establish that piece of the resiliency puzzle.

And while every Red Cross provides reconnecting family services, each society has developed its strengths, often based upon the populations it serves. Because of the high risk for tsunamis and earthquakes, the Chilean Red Cross is well-prepared to reconnect families separated domestically by natural disaster. In Tanzania, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Tanzanian Red Cross facilitate communication between families in refugee camps and their loved ones back in their country of origin. And both the Magen David Adom (Red Shield of David) in Israel and the American Red Cross continue to reconnect families separated by the Holocaust and provide them with information on the fate of their loved ones. All this work continues globally to help alleviate the human suffering caused by the loss of family communication.

Displacement in Nigeria: Restoring Family Links is also an important aspect of the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Many loved ones have become separated while escaping violence in northeastern Nigeria enacted upon their villages by Boko Haram. Last year, the conflict came to international attention when the group kidnapped 270 schoolgirls (giving rise to Twitter diplomacy or Twiplomacy). While media attention has been pulled elsewhere, however, the conflict continues. This week, the BBC reported on an attack by Boko Haram on the town of Baga earlier this year. Many of the town’s residents fled the village, escaping the violence by wading through Lake Chad and taking shelter on secluded islands. This has been a particular challenge for the humanitarian organizations trying to assist the displaced.