OCTOBER 4, 2010: Seven children rejoin their families after escaping violence

Seven children rejoin their families after escaping violence

SOURCE: International Committee of the Red Cross

Seven children have rejoined their families in Obo (Central African Republic) and South Sudan with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). They were separated from their families several years ago by the armed violence in the region.

"The children endured immense suffering and much of their childhood was taken away from them," says Alexandra Goodlad, head of the ICRC's office in the east of the Central African Republic (CAR). An ICRC plane took four children from Obo to Tambura in Southern Sudan, and then to Juba and Yei, before returning from Tambura to Obo with three children en route to their homes in the CAR. "Being reunited with their families is a first step on the long road to recovery," explained Goodlad.

David (17) and his younger brother Peter were abducted in 2008 when an armed group attacked their village in South Sudan. The brothers were separated and kept on the move, crossing first into the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then into the CAR.

"We had to carry heavy loads barefoot through the bush every day," says David. "Anyone who became too weak would be killed or left behind without food. I've dreamt so many times of the moment when I could finally go home."

But when David finally managed to flee he found himself far from home, in the north east of the CAR. He approached the Central African Red Cross Society, who contacted the ICRC. David was taken into care in Bangui and the search for his family in Sudan began.

When he returned to Sudan, David discovered that Peter had also made it back. "This is an incredible moment for us," says their elder brother. "We had given up all hope. We thought they were both dead."

Restoring family links is one of the priorities of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Since the beginning of 2010, the ICRC and the Central African Red Cross Society have enabled the exchange of 417 Red Cross messages and have reunited nine children with their families. In Sudan, the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society have carried more than 10,000 messages and reunited 13 children with their families.

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