Family tracing and reunification

The unfolding of disaster and war can often result in the forced separation of family members. Programs in this field aim to trace/locate and reunify family members with one another. The importance is deemed paramount, and in situations of armed conflict IHL names family reunification a right under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Easier said than done, family reunification can involve complicated verification and cross-border procedures, and sadly must also include efforts to clarify the fate of those missing.

Young woman talking on the phone

Photo: ICRC/Waudo, R.

Key actors

The ICRC Restoring Family Links program aims to prevent separation and disappearance, looks for missing persons, restores and maintains contact between family members, and clarifies the fate of persons reported missing

Carries out family tracing and reunification programs

UN specialized agency carrying out programs on family tracing and reunification

Key references

Handbook consisting of good practices and lessons learnt of the Save the Children Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) program in South Sudan

Guiding principles aiming at preventing separations, enhancing family tracing and reunification, as well as interim care and long-term solutions for unaccompanied and separated children

Technical guidance supporting the implementation of the Inter-agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children, and strengthening capacity building in programming for unaccompanied and separated children

Global, inter-agency resource designed to assist in the planning and implementation of effective programs to reunite separated children with their families

Latest discussions

Tools for the job

Open-source software for managing family tracing and reunification, as well as case management and incident monitoring

Toolkit designed to facilitate inter-agency planning and implementation of alternative care and related services for children separated from or unable to live with their families during and after an emergency