Thursday, 4 September 2008

Red Cross, Looking For Loved Ones.

I’m here in Northern Uganda to report on how the Red Cross tracing and message service works. It tries to put people in touch with long lost family members who’ve been separated by conflict or disaster anywhere in the world. You wouldn’t think it would be hard these days – between email, mobile phones and the rest, we take it for granted we can track our friends and family down pretty easily if we need to. But in a lot of these war-torn countries, it can be like a needle in a haystack. If there’s one message here, though, it’s that there’s always hope.

I’m out in the field tomorrow following some internally displaced persons (IDPs) in transit between urban camps to smaller camps nearer their villages. IDPs are like refugees, but they don’t actually leave their country. Apparently their case in Uganda was described by the UN as the “world’s worst forgotten humanitarian crisis on earth”. They fled far and wide while the conflict was in full force, and cluster together in these camps for safety, but hostilities have died down now and a lot of people are cautiously heading back towards their homes. It’s still not completely safe for them to go home, though, and many are looking for lost relatives. I’m keen to finally get out there.