Sri Lanka: Working together to reconnect families

Sri Lanka: Working together to reconnect families

Tracing missing people is no easy task. But Ravi Kumar, a Volunteer Tracing Coordinator (VTC) in the Mannar branch of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS), understands the challenges well.

During the uprising of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in 1983, Ravi Kumar, his mother and two older sisters were separated from his father, and younger and older brothers for six months. They found each other through an announcement on the Tracing Service of what was then the Radio Ceylon. After the family was reunited, they relocated to Mannar. Ravi Kumar was 13 years old at the time.

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This week in Restoring Family Links 05/16/2016 – 05/20/2016

This week in Restoring Family Links 05/16/2016 – 05/20/2016

SRI LANKA: 22 of Sri Lanka’s 26 districts are still recovering from landslides, mudslides, and floods that have been occurring since the beginning of the week. This has led to the displacement of over 350,000 people. The incidents occur frequently during the monsoon season, but due to the El Nino phenomenon, the heavy rains have become more fierce “for so early in the rainy season,” with signs of continuing for weeks. On May 18, two major landslides in the Kegalle disctrict, which is about 75 miles east of the country’s capital, has caused 58 deaths and buried 220 families so far.

The Sri Lankan government has sent troops to the affected areas to rescue people trapped by the landslides. However, it is expected that the death toll will increase significantly as hopes to rescue the trapped individuals dwindle. Following the landslides were torrential rains, which caused tremendous difficulties in rescue missions and created further risks of landslides. Some of the affected places areas are inaccessible, even by helicopters.

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This Week in Restoring Family Links News 8/23/2014-8/29/2014

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.

International Day of the Disappeared: It’s rare that I only cover one news item that was shared on social media during the week, but this is an extraordinarily important topic! International Day of the Disappeared is recognized every year on August 30th. It is a day set aside to draw attention to those who have gone missing because of conflict, disaster, and migration; and the work of organizations around the world to learn their fate and support families of the missing. Its impetus came the work of Latin American organizations actively working against enforced disappearances in the region, but has grown to honor those who have gone missing around the globe, from conflicts in the Western Balkans to disasters in the Philippines.

Many organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), now work on issues of the missing. International humanitarian law dictates that states are obliged to clarify the fate or whereabouts of people who have gone missing. The ICRC supports this work in many places around globe, from Colombia, to the former Yugoslavia and Sri Lanka.

Due to the unique circumstances in which people go missing, their work varies from place to place. In Colombia, the ICRC works to trace those who have gone missing as well as improve national systems for identifying remains found in anonymous gravesites. In Bosnia, they have helped advocate for legal mechanisms to honor families of the missing. Regardless of their level of involvement in uncovering the fate of the disappeared themselves, the ICRC works to support and advocate on behalf of families of the missing.

Other Red Cross Red Crescent societies also work on issues of the missing through the Restoring Family Links program. The Canadian Red Cross often works with its refugee population to search for loved ones who went missing while fleeing conflict in their home nation. The American Red Cross and its partner organizations work with families of missing migrants to determine the fate of those who have disappeared within the US-Mexico borderlands.

Outside of the Red Cross Movement, many other organizations and family associations advocate on behalf of the missing. In Turkmenistan, families continue to pressure their government to release information concerning the fate of people disappeared over ten years ago. Similarly in Kashmir, protests have been organized around the International Day of the Disappeared to learn the fate of those who have gone missing in relation to conflict in the region.

And the stories shared here are just a drop in the bucket. For this year’s day of recognition, please take the time to learn more about issues of the missing and the incredible work being done to support families who continue to suffer from not knowing the fate of their loves ones.

More resources:

Amnesty International’s work against enforced disappearance

International Commission on Missing Persons work with governments on issues of the missing

Read about all of ICRC’s work on missing persons