Ensuring care for separated children and reuniting them with their families
In the chaos of war, mass population movements and other crises, many children become separated from their families. These children have lost the care and protection of their parents when they most need it, they are at risk of abuse and exploitation and their very survival is threatened.
As soon as access to an area is secured, IRC identifies and registers separated children to protect them from further threats and abuse and immediately starts the complex process of tracing their families. IRC’s long experience with family tracing has shown that most, if not all, separated children have family members willing and able to care for them if they can be found.
While working to reunite families, we ensure that the children are well cared for within a family context, usually by a family from their own community. We regularly monitor the care to ensure that children have access to activities which help strengthen their resilience so that they may better cope with family separation and their difficult environment.
IRC first started tracing and family reunification of separated children in 1980 during the Cambodian refugee crisis in Thailand and now has programs in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Uganda.
In West Africa, IRC has successfully reunited 4,500 separated Sierra Leonean and Liberian children with their parents or other family members. Over a period of 12 years of civil wars in their countries, the children had crossed the border to the relative safety of Guinea where IRC identified, registered and supported them in foster families while tracing their families.
For further information on IRC Child & Youth programs, please contact us at children@theIRC.org.