The British Red Cross is inviting people across Wales to contact the charity if they need help tracing a missing family member. The call comes as people across the world remember missing loved ones on International Day of the Disappeared (30 August).
Each year the Red Cross helps put hundreds of people separated by conflict situations or disasters back in touch through its international family tracing service. This unique service, which originated on the battlefields of the First World War, is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
During the Great War, thousands of families lost contact with their loved ones and the British Red Cross was in the unique position to use its network of Red Cross contacts across Europe to help establish what had happened to them.
A total of 342,248 enquiries were received over the course of the war. Local volunteers were responsible for searching hospitals and ensuring new arrivals were checked against the list of those reported missing. Base hospitals and army rest camps abroad were also searched and volunteers were able to check lists of reported prisoners of war received through the Frankfurt Red Cross and Geneva Red Cross and were often able to relay this information to relatives before the War Office could.
Yvonne Burgis, international family tracing coordinator at the Red Cross, says: “One hundred years after the start of World War One, thousands of people across the world continue to go missing due to conflict situations or disasters. For those relatives left behind, not knowing the fate of their loved ones can be devastating. We’d like to use International Day of the Disappeared and the centenary of our service to spread the word about the important work we do and reach more people who need our help.”
Volunteers from the service are currently working with numerous families across Wales with the hope of reuniting them with missing family members. Last year, the British Red Cross traced people from countries all across the world, including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Poland and Somalia.
Anyone that would like to find out more about the international family tracing service or those who are personally affected and would like support tracing a family member should contact their local Red Cross office or visit redcross.org.uk/Finding-missing-family.