Every country in the world is affected by the tragedy of people who have gone missing due to conflicts, disasters, or migration.

While it is difficult to provide exact figures here are some statistics relating to the number of people missing because of armed conflict or violence:

  • In Colombia at least 79,000 people are estimated to be missing as a result of the armed conflict and other circumstances
  • In Sri Lanka the ICRC has registered 16,000 people missing as a result of the conflict
  • The number of missing persons in Iraq from 2003 to 2013 ranges from 250,000 to up to 1 million according to different public sources.

Beyond the numbers - emotional and other impacts

Numbers cannot, however, convey the depth of suffering endured in each individual case.

Families of the missing are left not knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead, many families search for years trying to find news, and many are unable to resume their lives.

The impact can be psychological, physical, economic and long lasting on the family and their community.

Across the globe Red Cross plays an important role in locating news of the missing and disappeared and where possible helps families re-establish contact.

If deceased, remains must be searched for, properly handled, identified where possible and returned to their loved ones.

What we do in New Zealand

In New Zealand, Red Cross works to connect families who have been separated across international borders by conflicts, disasters, or migration, through the Restoring Family Links service.

In the last year we have worked on 140 cases across 40 countries involving people separated from their families and loved ones.

If you have been separated from loved ones by armed conflict, disaster or migration, we may be able to help.

Our services are confidential and free to all residing in New Zealand.

Find out more on our website or contact familylinks@redcross.org.nz