In Burundi, the July 2015 presidential elections have led to violence and political unrest and have resulted in large numbers of people seeking safety in neighboring countries. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are assisting in hosting refugees and The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also there assisting in the crisis.
Throughout area refugee camps the ICRC provides a variety of humanitarian supports including clean water, health and sanitation. The ICRC, in cooperation with the National Societies of Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, also provides supports through its Restoring Family Links program.
The Restoring Family Links program provides services for reconnecting loved ones separated through conflict, war, and humanitarian crisis. These include the registration of unaccompanied minors, visits to detention centers, tracing and messaging services, as well as mobile phone support.
Lost Communication During Conflict
Lost mobile phone service is a major barrier to displaced loved ones trying to reconnect, and is one of the ways in which the Family Links program can help. Upon entering a neighboring country, Burundians no longer have access to mobile networks and lose the ability to make phone calls. Working with local providers the ICRC has received donations of local SIM cards, with pre-loaded airtime, allowing refugees to make needed calls. Addressing the compounding problem of limited electricity, the ICRC has also initiated project “Mobile Solar Kiosk” enabling refugees to charge their phones remotely.
A Family Reunited
Mahama Camp, in Rwanda, is just one of the many camps hosting Burundi refugees. When Fredric Ngano sought safety for his family at Mahama, he lost contact with his minor son who was too sick to make the journey. Committed to finding him, Fredric was able to work with ICRC volunteers to call his son and eventually reunite the family. See Rwanda / Burundi: Torn apart by violence – Burundian families reunited for Fredric’s story.
Reconnecting Through Family Links
Reconnecting with loved ones displaced in Burundi starts with your local Red Cross. For inquiries in Southern Nevada call (702) 791-3311 for more information. You can also visit Reconnecting Families | American Red Cross to learn more about the Family Links program. There you can begin an online search by completing the International Reconnecting Families Inquiry Form.
And for more information on how the Red Cross is helping in the humanitarian crisis in Burundi, as well as crisis worldwide, please visit the The International Committee of The Red Cross for details.