On November 13th, the ICRC launched familylinks.icrc.org, a new website aimed at reconnecting family members separated by armed conflict or natural disaster.
If you think that in today's world, cell phones and the internet suffice to reconnect people dispersed by war, disaster, migration and other emergencies, think again.
It turns out that in 2011, someone sought the help of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement to restore her or his family links every forty-five seconds. Delegates and Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers also hand-delivered a Red Cross message every four minutes and reunited a child with her or his family every six hours.
Romain Bircher, a Geneva-based protection and tracing delegate who played a key role in the development of the new site, explains how familylinks.icrc.org gathers useful information for people seeking missing relatives and how it significantly improves our capacity to facilitate this crucial exchange of information.
Other organizations and companies have recently provided tracing services during crises but, as Mr. Bircher explains, the ICRC's approach remains unique in the care it takes to protect sensitive information and in how it complements the exchange of data in cyberspace with on-the ground humanitarian services, people who physically connect other people with each other... every forty-five seconds.