From the field - Reuniting families in Côte d'Ivoire

Reuniting families in Côte d'Ivoire - © ICRC/KERO, Noora

Reuniting families in Côte d'Ivoire - © ICRC/KERO, Noora

Post-election violence has largely ceased in Côte d'Ivoire but the humanitarian needs remain significant, notably for displaced and refugee families returning home.

Many find their houses destroyed, their property looted and the services like water and sanitation lacking. Hundreds of parents were separated from their children as they fled. Many are still looking for them a year later.

Since the end of the conflict, the ICRC in Côte d'Ivoire has worked closely with the Liberian, Guinean and Ivorian Red Cross societies to ensure that separated children are reunited with their families. Almost 700 children have been registered in seven countries, the vast majority of them in neighboring Liberia, where an estimated 100,000 refugees still live.

The security and well being of separated children is clearly our main concern. Reunification only happens parents want their child back and the child agrees. Forty-three children have been reunited to date, with another 75 waiting to return.

Gail Van Hoever works as a tracing delegate in Man, in the west of central Côte d'Ivoire. She has reunited of 25 children with their families in recent months.

Ms. Van Hoever explains how we go about reuniting children with their parents, what the experience has meant for her and for families who, as she says, were torn apart by a conflict they never wanted.