Red Cross helps families find their lost loved ones

Suomen Punainen Risti
A poster distributed by the Red Cross organisations has photos of people looking for their family members who are staying in Europe or who have been travelling to Europe.
Image: Suomen Punainen Risti

As migration increases, the number of missing persons has also increased in Europe. The national Red Cross organisations look for missing family members throughout Europe.

Red Cross helps families
  • Are you looking for your family members? You can find the photos of everyone looking for their loved ones here.
  • Has your family member gone missing, and would you like to publish your photo in the Red Cross poster and on the website? You can find more information here.
  • The national Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations help look for missing persons, pass messages between family members, and help reconnect families. Read more here.

Disasters and crises force many families apart. Long-term conflicts may separate the members of a family for several years. The Red Cross helps families look for their missing relatives in different parts of the world.

The Finnish Red Cross makes, approximately, 300 missing person inquiries annually. The inquiries are usually sent directly to specific countries. Since immigration has increased due to ongoing conflicts, the search for the missing has been expanded to cover the whole of Europe.

“This is the first time that the Red Cross organisations will look for missing persons throughout Europe,” says organiser Aki Väilä.

Over 20 national Red Cross organisations publish a monthly poster of people who are looking for their missing family members. The objective is that the missing person will recognise the photo and contact the local Red Cross. The Finnish Red Cross distributes posters e.g. to reception centres and immigration offices.

The search for missing persons is challenging

Every year, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent are contacted hundreds of times by families having lost their loved ones who are staying in Europe or who have been travelling to Europe.

“Europe has closed its borders more strictly. It is difficult for asylum seekers to enter Europe legally, which has increased the number of missing persons, as they have to rely upon smugglers,” Väilä says.

The search for missing persons is often difficult, because many of them have not settled down anywhere. Sometimes, a person who has left their homeland has not been registered in their new country of residence, in which case, there will be no evidence that they are staying in that country.

In addition, differences between languages affect the registration of those entering a country. Different countries have different practices regarding the spelling of names, which is why the name of a missing person is not always recognised.