Restoring family links in Asia and the Pacific

In Asia and the Pacific, the ICRC and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are helping families to restore contact when they become separated by war, disaster or migration

The boundaries and names shown, and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the International Committee of the Red Cross.


  • Afghanistan

    Click to read about restoring family links in Afghanistan


    An ICRC employee presents the Trace the Face website to a man
    looking for a missing relative who has gone abroad.
    Kabul, Afghanistan.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Jessica Barry


    For more than 20 years, the ICRC has been working with the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) to help restore contact between families separated by conflict, disaster or migration.

    Since 2016, the ICRC has:

    • facilitated more than 9,474 phone calls between people held in Bagram Prison and Detention Facilities – Parwan and their relatives, and facilitated 3,172 family visits to detainees there;
    • enabled an average of 397 families per month to restore or maintain contact with a detained relative;
    • worked with the ARCS to search for over 729 people in Afghanistan with whom Afghan migrants and refugees living abroad had lost contact;
    • worked with the ARCS to return to their families the bodies of more than 1,257 combatants and civilians killed in the conflict.



  • Australia

    Click to read about restoring family links in Australia


    A man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo living in Australia receives a
    Red Cross Message from his only surviving relative back home in the DRC.
    The message, delivered by an Australian Red Cross tracing officer, was the first news from his family in 18 years.

    © Australian Red Cross / Sarah Landro


    Since 2015:

    • the Australian Red Cross (ARC) has helped people search for over 1,800 relatives around the world;
    • the ARC has provided RFL services to migrants in Australian immigration detention facilities, both within Australia and (alongside the ICRC) in Australia's offshore processing facilities on the islands of Nauru and Manus;
    • ARC personnel have been supporting RFL work in South Sudan, Tanzania, Vanuatu and Ukraine;

    The International Tracing Service of the ARC has been helping families in Australia since 1915


  • Bangladesh

    Click to read about restoring family links in Bangladesh


    “He wouldn't let go of me the day he arrived. We never thought we'd see each other again.
    In just one year my little boy has grown up so big,” says a sobbing mother of her 14-year-old son.
    He had migrated to Malaysia, and here we see them
    after they were reunited by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Rayhan Sultana Toma


    The ICRC helps people in Bangladesh restore contact with their families, in partnership with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BRCS).


    Since 2015, the BRCS has:

    • provided 2,000 phone calls for Bangladeshi migrants on their return to Bangladesh, so they could re-establish contact with their families and inform them of their arrival;
    • enabled families in Bangladesh to exchange more than 750 short oral messages with relatives detained abroad;
    • exchanged more than 2,200 Red Cross messages between Bangladeshi nationals detained abroad and their families in Bangladesh;
    • facilitated the reunification of 192 unaccompanied minors with their families, carrying out follow-up visits to 87 of them, with the support of the ICRC;
    • conducted campaigns to raise awareness of family separation during migration and in disaster-prone areas, reaching 2,500 people;
    • conducted information sessions on its RFL activities for 105 students.



  • Bhutan

    Click to read about restoring family links in Bhutan

    Since 2015, the ICRC has:

    • helped the families of 20 detainees held in Bhutan to make a total of 31 visits to them (see Nepal);
    • facilitated the distribution of three Red Cross messages to detainees in Bhutan through the Bhutanese authorities. 


  • Cambodia

    Click to read about restoring family links in Cambodia


    A Cambodian man who had been imprisoned in Viet Nam is reunited with his family after more than
    two decades of separation, thanks to the combined efforts of the Cambodian and Vietnamese
    Red Cross Societies and the ICRC (see link below).



    • The Cambodian Red Cross Society has exchanged 3,114 Red Cross messages between Cambodian people (detainees and others) and their families since 2015.
    • The ICRC has recently started a programme to identify vulnerable detainees who could benefit from visits from their relatives with the financial support of the ICRC.
    • In coordination with the Viet Nam Red Cross, a former Vietnamese detainee in Cambodia was reunited with his family (see link below).


  • India

    Click to read about restoring family links in India


    An Indian Red Cross Society volunteer fills in a tracing request for a woman who is looking for a family member.
    Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu, India.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Tahniyat Sidiqi


    The ICRC works with the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) to provide RFL services.


    Since 2015, the ICRC:

    • facilitated 159 family visits to 64 detainees held in connection with the situation in Jammu & Kashmir;
    • collected and distributed 28 Red Cross messages to help detainees restore contact with their families;
    • exchanged 64 oral messages between family members and their relatives detained abroad;
    • issued 571 travel documents to refugees in India who had been accepted for resettlement in third countries;
    • enabled three unaccompanied children to restore contact with their brother through the Red Cross/Red Crescent Trace the Face website and organized a video call between them.


    Over the same period, the IRCS:

    • collected 653 Red Cross messages and distributed 343 in five correctional homes in West Bengal;
    • collected 40 Red Cross messages and distributed 13 in other states;
    • received 190 tracing requests, of which six resulted in the person being located;
    • assisted 679 people who became separated during two major Melas (mass Hindu pilgrimages) in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, reuniting 599 of them with their families.


  • Indonesia

    Click to read about restoring family links in Indonesia


    A man uses a satellite phone to call his family following the Mentawai earthquake and tsunami.
    Mentawai Island, Indonesia, 2010.

    © Indonesian Red Cross


    Since 2015, the ICRC has:

    • processed 34 tracing enquiries;
    • collected 14 Red Cross messages from the family of a detainee held in Guantanamo and distributed 46 replies to the family of that detainee;
    • exchanged 37 short oral messages between detainees abroad and their families in Indonesia;
    • enabled 4 Indonesian detainees in the Philippines to receive family visits.


    Over the same period:

    • the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia, PMI) processed 49 tracing requests and 27 Red Cross messages;
    • the ICRC and the PMI enabled migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh to restore contact with their families via 960 phone calls.


    In 2016, the PMI:

    • created an RFL pool of eight experienced RFL staff representing western and eastern parts of Indonesia;
    • trained staff and volunteers in North Kalimantan so they could help Indonesian migrants returning from Sabah (Malaysia) keep in touch with their families.


    The ICRC, the PMI and the Red Cross of Timor-Leste made it possible for an Indonesian citizen of Timor Leste origin to visit his parents' grave in Timor-Leste. 


  • Japan

    Click to read about restoring family links in Japan


    A woman uses a satellite phone to restore contact with her family
    during the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.
    Tohuku region, Japan, 2011.

    © Japanese Red Cross Society


    The Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) works with the ICRC and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help people restore contact with relatives following separation due to conflict, disaster or other causes.

    Since 2015, the JRCS has received 297 tracing requests and located 21 people. More than 90% of the requests the JRCS receives are from families divided between Japan and North Korea. 


  • Republic of Korea

    Click to read about restoring family links in the Republic of Korea

     Republic of Korea

    Separated Korean families reunite after 65 years apart.
    Mount Geumgang, North Korea, October 2015.

    © The Republic of Korea National Red Cross


    The ICRC office in the Republic of Korea does not undertake RFL activities.

    The Red Cross Societies of the Republic of Korea (ROK, also known as South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, also known as North Korea) are not allowed to exchange Red Cross messages between divided families, either directly or through the ICRC. The Republic of Korea National Red Cross (KNRC) maintains updated lists of families that have been divided ever since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

    Following decisions of the North and South Korean governments, the two Red Cross Societies hold rounds of meetings between selected individuals from the North and South. These usually involve 100 people from each country, with a maximum of 5 persons from each family. The meetings take place in a tourist resort in North Korea, where families can meet six times, for two hours each time, over a three-day period. Since 2000, there have been 20 such rounds of meetings.


  • Laos

    Click to read about restoring family links in Laos


    A Lao Red Cross RFL team discusses a tracing request received from Cambodia with the head of a village.
    Vang Vieng, Laos.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Rattanaporn Phumman


    The Lao Red Cross launched its RFL services in 2014. Since then, the Society has been developing the capacity of staff and volunteers in the five provinces from which most requests come. This has resulted in improved RFL services for migrants detained in Thailand and their families in Laos.

    The Lao Red Cross has facilitated the exchange of 99 Red Cross messages and oral messages between families in Laos and their relatives detained in Thailand, and is working on its first tracing enquiry, involving a family separated for the last two decades.


  • Malaysia

    Read about restoring family links in Malaysia


    Detained migrants write Red Cross messages to their families.
    Lenggeng Immigration Detention Centre, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Haris Coussidis


    The ICRC and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) help families separated by conflict, violence, natural disaster and migration restore and maintain contact with one another.


    Since 2015, the ICRC and the MRCS have:

    • collected 243 Red Cross messages from detainees held in prisons and immigration detention centres in Malaysia to distribute to their families, in Malaysia or abroad;
    • delivered 38 Red Cross messages collected abroad to detainees;
    • collected 66 Red Cross messages from non-detainees;
    • distributed 159 Red Cross messages collected abroad to non-detainees;
    • facilitated over 2,400 phone calls for detainees held in immigration detention centres in Malaysia, so they could restore contact with their relatives;
    • exchanged 1,102 oral messages between detainees visited by the ICRC and their families;
    • processed 15 requests from people searching for their relatives and located 8 people.

    The ICRC has also facilitated 31 video calls between Malaysian detainees in Guantanamo and their family members in Malaysia. 


  • Maldives

    Read about restoring family links in the Maldives


    ICRC and Malaysian Red Crescent staff in discussion before a course. Male, Maldives.



    The Maldivian Red Crescent Society distributes Red Cross messages arriving from abroad and collects RCMs from Maldivian families for relatives detained in Syria. 


  • Myanmar

    Read about restoring family links in Myanmar


    A family reads a Red Cross message handed over by a MRCS volunteer. Ayeyarwaddy Region, Myanmar, 2015.

    © ARC


    The ICRC works with the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) to provide RFL services and to support the RFL activities of the MRCS.


    Since 2015, the MRCS has:

    • delivered 85 Red Cross messages collected abroad and 1,387 Red Cross messages collected in Myanmar, most of them to families of detainees;
    • reunited a vulnerable woman with her family;
    • facilitated 4 "safe and well" phone calls between family members and collected 14 requests from people to locate relatives they had lost contact with during the 2015 floods;
    • facilitated 401 "safe and well" phone calls between separated relatives, registered 543 people as alive and well and collected 6 requests from people to locate relatives they had lost contact with following displacement of people in Shan and Kachin states in 2015 and 2016.


    During the same period, the ICRC has:

    • collected 4,225 Red Cross messages from detainees and delievered 2,067;
    • exchanged 66 oral messages between people detained abroad and their relatives in Myanmar;
    • responded to 11 requests to trace missing relatives;
    • located 3 unaccompanied children and enabled them to restore contact with their families;
    • facilitated the transmission of documents to 2 families of deceased migrants.


  • Nepal

    Read about restoring family links in Nepal


    A member of the Singati community talks to his relatives. Many villages in Dolakha lost contact with the outside
    world following the aftershocks in May 2015 that followed the previous month's earthquake.
    Dolakha district, Nepal.



    Since 2015, the ICRC has:

    • exchanged 11 short oral messages between Nepalese detainees in Malaysia and their families;
    • arranged video calls between two Nepalese women detained in Kuwait and their relatives;
    • helped a Nepalese migrant deported from Kuwait – along with her baby suffering from cerebral palsy – to restore contact with her family, and helped her return home;
    • facilitated visits by 85 Bhutanese refugees to their detained relatives in Bhutan;
    • issued 130 travel documents to allow refugees or stateless persons to resettle.

    The NRCS distributes pamphlets about RFL services to departing migrants at Katmandu airport.


    Restoring links after the Nepal earthquake (2015-2016)

    The NRCS:

    • collected 120 "safe and well" messages and distributed 86;
    • facilitated 332 phone calls.

    The ICRC notified embassies that 27 foreign detainees were safe and well.

    As of June 2016, the cases of 2,517 persons missing following the earthquake had been resolved, while 51 people were still missing.

    44 injured people received assistance in returning home from hospital, and 152 families received assistance with cremation costs following the death of a relative.


    People missing following the armed conflict in Nepal

    The families of 3,237 people reported them to the ICRC and NRCS as missing. 1,335 are still missing. NRCS volunteers visit their families and the NRCS has helped 1,242 families obtain government assistance.


    The NRCS also offers RFL services in Nepalese prisons.


  • New Zealand

    Read about restoring family links in New Zealand

     New Zealand

    A woman separated from her family discusses her tracing enquiry with the New Zealand Red Cross.
    Auckland, New Zealand.

    © New Zealand Red Cross


    Since 2015, the New Zealand Red Cross has:

    • processed more than 140 RFL enquiries from 40 countries;
    • celebrated its centenary (in 2015), with the first recorded activity being a family reunification in the 1930s between parents and children separated during the 1917 Russian Revolution;
    • commemorated missing persons on the International Day of the Disappeared (30 August 2015) with a Missing Lives photo exhibition in Wellington;
    • carried out an assessment to identify RFL needs within New Zealand;
    • recruited skilled volunteers to handle RFL enquiries, research and the promotion of RFL services;
    • worked with the government to enhance the tracing of missing persons in New Zealand.


  • Pakistan

    Read about restoring family links in Pakistan


    Two young Afghan brothers talk to the Pakistan Red Crescent
    before being reunited with their father in Peshawar, Afghanistan.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Yasin Kamran


    Since 2015, the ICRC has:

    • organized 527 video and phone calls between detainees abroad and their relatives in Pakistan, benefiting 136 families;
    • arranged for eight people to visit relatives detained in Afghanistan;
    • worked with the Pakistan Red Crescent to exchange 700 oral and written family news messages;
    • processed 340 requests to locate family members;
    • helped five vulnerable children restore contact with their families and reunited two of them with their family in Afghanistan;
    • helped the Pakistan Red Crescent expand its Restoring Family Links network to 69 staff and 150 volunteers, who organized 116 "safe and well" phone calls, plus psychological support for 1,366 patients and their families.


  • Papua New Guinea

    Read about restoring family links in Papua New Guinea

     Papua New Guinea

    A detainee is reunited with his triplets during a family visit organized by the ICRC.
    Bekut Correctional Institution, Bougainville.



    Since 2015, the ICRC and the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society (PNGRCS) have:

    • enabled 139 people to visit 50 relatives in Bekut prison, North Bougainville;
    • enabled 43 people to visit 20 relatives in Kerevat prison, East New Britain.


    The ICRC:

    • collected two Red Cross messages from detainees for the PNGRCS to deliver to their families in Papua New Guinea;
    • is searching for eight people in Papua New Guinea (in conjunction with the PNGRCS);
    • collected 22 tracing requests at Australia's Manus Regional Processing Centre and delivered two Red Cross messages to people there.


    The ICRC helps the families of people missing since the 1989-1997 Bougainville conflict by:

    • helping them exercise their right to know what happened to their relatives and fulfil their wish to retrieve their remains if they are dead;
    • conducting activities with the PNGRCS on the International Day of the Disappeared;
    • supporting associations of families of missing persons;
    • working with the Autonomous Bougainville Government and others on a legal mechanism to return the remains of missing persons to their families.


  • Philippines

    Read about restoring family links in the Philippines


    An ICRC employee delivers a Red Cross message to a detainee from his father. Provincial jail, Aurora, Philippines.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / A. Awaji


    The ICRC and the Philippines Red Cross (PRC) work together on restoring family links in the Philippines.


    Since 2015:

    • 739 detainees have benefited from the ICRC family visit programme implemented by the PRC;
    • 9 detainees and 13 non-detainees have restored contact with their relatives through the distribution of Red Cross messages in the Philippines and abroad;
    • 12 short oral messages were exchanged between detainees visited abroad and their families in the Philippines.


    The ICRC is helping the PRC develop its capacity to respond to disasters, such as the typhoons that hit the Philippines every year. A total of 56 key PRC chapters out of the 102 nationwide underwent RFL training and received RFL materials and equipment that will enable PRC staff and volunteers to help restore contact between people who become separated.


  • Sri Lanka

    Read about restoring family links in Sri Lanka

     Sri Lanka

    Ravikumar (left), a volunteer tracing coordinator from the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, restored contact between
    Mariadaas Baskaran and Nesan, two brothers who had been separated for 24 years. Mannar, Sri Lanka.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Pascal Jequier


    In Sri Lanka, the ICRC focuses on helping the families of people who went missing during the Sri Lanka conflict. With the ICRC's technical and financial support, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) provides RFL services to families separated by migration and natural disaster.

    The ICRC has assessed the needs of 395 families of missing persons, resulting in the submission of a confidential report to the authorities and the release of a public report in July 2016. The ICRC is running a family support programme, from which 1,624 family members have benefited so far.


    Between January 2015 and June 2016:

    • the ICRC facilitated family visits to 376 detainees and helped 91 return home upon release;
    • the ICRC and the SLRCS exchanged 167 Red Cross messages and 114 oral messages between detainees in Sri Lanka and their families, and between Sri Lankans detained abroad and their families in Sri Lanka;
    • 337 migration-related tracing requests were processed, of which 77 led to the person being found;
    • the ICRC issued 176 ICRC travel documents to allow refugees or stateless persons to resettle in a third country;
    • the SLRCS conducted 449 awareness sessions for 22,700 future migrant workers and their families, regarding the risk of losing contact and the RFL services available through the Red Cross/Red Crescent Family Links Network. 


  • Thailand

    Read about restoring family links in Thailand


    Families from southern Thailand arrive in Bangkok to visit their detained relatives,
    after a long train journey made possible by the ICRC.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / W. Wanichakorn


    Since 2015, the ICRC has:

    • facilitated visits by families living in the south of the country to 27 security detainees held in central and eastern Thailand;
    • organized 608 phone calls and exchanged 627 oral messages between Myanmar and Bangladeshi migrants detained in immigration detention centres and their families back home;
    • collected 357 Red Cross messages from foreign detainees to their families, including a significant number addressed to families in Laos;
    • worked with the Thai Red Cross to help people injured during the August 2015 Ratchaprasong Shrine incident in Bangkok to let their families know where they were.


    The Thai Red Cross has trained 35 of its volunteers to provide RFL services when disasters occur.


  • Timor-Leste

    Read about restoring family links in Timor-Leste


    Emmanuel (in the black suit) visits the cemetery where his parents are buried, thanks to support from the
    Timor-Leste Red Cross, the Indonesian Red Cross and the ICRC.
    Emmanuel was taken to Indonesia as a child by the Indonesian army in 1982.
    Wagia Ossu, Viqueque Municipality, Timor-Leste.

    © Red Cross of Timor-Leste / Paulino


    Since 2015, the Timor-Leste Red Cross has:

    • processed 4 Red Cross messages between relatives;
    • followed the progress of tracing enquiries made by families in Timor-Leste regarding their children who were taken to Indonesia;
    • worked with the ICRC and the Indonesian Red Cross to enable a man born in Timor-Leste to visit the grave of his parents in that country;
    • facilitated one family visit;
    • supported the reunification of 25 children born in Timor-Leste with their families of origin in the country, with the cooperation of the ICRC and other Indonesian and Timor-Leste organizations;
    • trained 122 volunteers on RFL in disasters and trained 24 staff on RFL in general.


  • Viet Nam

    Read about restoring family links in Viet Nam

     Viet Nam

    A Cambodian man who had been imprisoned in Viet Nam is reunited with his family after more than two decades
    of separation, thanks to the combined efforts of the Vietnamese and Cambodian Red Cross Societies
    and the ICRC (see link below).



    The RFL activities of the Viet Nam Red Cross have expanded steadily over the past few years. A small but increasing number of Vietnamese people detained in Thailand and Malaysia have been able to restore contact with their relatives in Viet Nam through cooperation between the ICRC and the Viet Nam Red Cross.

    In cooperation with the Cambodian Red Cross Society, the Viet Nam Red Cross facilitated the reunification of a former Vietnamese detainee with his family. Similarly, cooperation with the American Red Cross has allowed relatives separated since the Viet Nam war to get back in touch.