|ICRC Activities in Rwanda: 1993 - 6 April 2000 (International Committee of the Red Cross , 230 p.)|
10,000 UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN REGISTERED SO FAR
Details of the identity of nearly 10,000 children separated from their parents have been registered to date in Rwanda and in refugee camps in Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi.
The ICRC is giving top priority to this task. We are only at the initial stages, said Alfredo Mallet of the ICRCs Central Tracing Agency. This operation will certainly keep us busy for years to come.
The ICRC on its own could not collect and process all the details gleaned from the children. It is therefore working in cooperation with other relief agencies, religious institutions and centres for unaccompanied children. Registrations are coordinated by eleven ICRC delegates. The information is then fed into a centralized data bank which can be consulted in all ICRC offices in the region: Kigali, Ruhengeri, Gikongoro and Butare (Rwanda), Kabale (Uganda), Goma and Bukavu (Zaire), Ngara (Tanzania) and Bujumbura (Burundi). This makes it possible to reply to the queries of Rwandans who turn to the ICRC in the hope of finding their children. So far there have been about a hundred such enquiries, and a dozen cases have been solved.
Many families dont seem to know that the service exists. It was set up by the ICRC and other organizations - UNHCR, UNICEF, the Save the Children Fund, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - which are all anxious to assist these children. Several radio stations have now started broadcasting information about the tracing service in the local language, Kinyarwanda, so as to make it better known. This is a great help, said Alfredo Mallet.
5,000 Red Cross messages
Another service seeing a rapid expansion in the region is the Red Cross message network. In recent weeks more than 5,000 messages have been forwarded. At first messages could be exchanged only between refugee camps in Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi or with other countries, but a few days ago they began to be distributed within Rwanda as well. Messages for Kigali are now accepted if the sender is sure that the addressee is in the capital.
Prisoners too can contact relatives
The refugees are not the only ones using the Red Cross message service. The 2,000 prisoners registered by the ICRC in six places of detention in Rwanda are also given the opportunity to write to their families.
Further information: Patrick Fuller, ICRC Nairobi, tel. + +
2542 716 339
Tony Burgener, ICRC Geneva, tel. + + 4122 730 2317