Family links program

The concept of Restoring Family Links program

(RFL) is the general term for a range of activities that aim to reduce the separation of family members from each other and their disappearance and to re-establish contact between families and maintain and disclose the fate of people who are missing.


Vision of RFL program

When people are separated from their parents or have heard no news from them, as a result of armed conflict or other situations of violence, natural disasters or other situations requiring a humanitarian response, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent respond efficiently and effectively by mobilizing its resources to restore family links.

Armed conflicts and other situations of violence, natural disasters and man-made disasters, international migration and other odds of countless people seeking to get on news of their family members. Respecting family unity goes hand in hand with respect for human dignity, and welfare of a person, to a large extent, counts on its ability to stay in touch with his loved ones or at least to obtain information on what happened to them. For that, every part of the International movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent makes various unremitting efforts for decades to restore family links.

This unique service, in addition to the moral support provided, placed at the heart of the work of the movement benefiting hundreds of thousands of people annually from the RFL service. The RFL generic term refers to a range of activities that aim to prevent separation of the people from each other and their disappearance and to reconnect families and maintain and disclose the fate of people who are considered missing. Often these activities are closely linked to psychological, legal and material support provided to the families and people who are affected from the programs, resettlement and reintegration, and social welfare services. Other activities include the management of human remains and identification by forensic science.

The International committee is firmly committed to helping people who are missing any of their family members. As part of the emphasis and implementation of the commitments that International Conference have taken the responsibility on during the meeting held in 2003 by Governmental and Non-Governmental Experts and as part of humanitarian work, which was approved by the twenty-eighth International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent agenda regard leading a global initiative to promote the movement's ability to reconnect family links with their missing members. The strategy of Restoring Family Links (RFL) of the international red cross and red crescent movement is a result of this initiative. It also represents an affirmation of the support given by the international committee to national societies to fulfill their commitments and in decisions taken by the Council of delegates and the international summit of the Red Cross and Red Crescent over the years.

Family Links Network (which includes the central agency for searching missing persons, agencies in the ICRC delegations for searching missing persons and the tracing services of National Societies) encounter great challenges in the mean time. There is some misunderstanding of the nature of work of the restoring family links in all parts of the network and a sense of irresponsibility and commitment. When that combined with the problem of the scarcity of resources, and increasing the size and the complexity of the situations that require humanitarian action, and an increasing number of other entities operating in this traditional sphere of actions taken by the movement, enormous effort should be made if the various components of the Movement wanted to retain their outstanding importance.

The ICRC as well the National Societies and the International Federation all have a responsibility to build a network of family links and taking care of promote and maintain them. The effectiveness of this unique international network is counting on the ability of components to strengthen capacity, intensify cooperation and to identify priorities for action. To address these issues, the Movement should adopt a more comprehensive approach to build capacity across the network by performing the following:

  •   Increase the participation of the National Societies.
  •  Enhancing the efficiency of the International Committee in the implementation of processes and approaches based on a partnership with the National Societies in the contexts of the implementation processes.
  •   Strengthen cooperation between the ICRC and the International Federation to support the development of national associations and activities of the RFL.


The strategy of RFL of the international movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is based on Statutes of the movement and resolutions adopted by Council of delegates and the International Conference. That strategy based on the agreement on organizing the international activities of the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Seville Agreement, the Council of Delegates, November 1997) and subsequent supplemental procedures of the Council of delegates, Seoul, November 2005. That strategy did not emerge out of nothing, but it depended on the strengths of tracing of missing individual by national Societies and their possession of knowledge as well as the experience of the ICRC and the expertise services. The strategy seeks to develop a coherent strategic approach that enhances the work of restoring family links, both local and global levels.

The effective change would take time and requirements of resources as the strategy adopted by RFL of the international movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement acknowledge the importance of the mission and confirm the long-term support commitment of the movement.


RFL Programs activities

Restoring Family Links activities take various forms depending on the situation:

  •  organizing the exchange of family news.
  •  Searching for people.
  •  Registration of persons and follow-up.
  •  Reuniting families and repatriation.
  •  Collecting, management and delivery of dead people (locate human remains, recovery and get to know their identity).
  •  Transfer of official documents, such as birth certificates or identity cards.
  •  Issuance of certification of detention.
  •  Issuance of travel documents.
  •  Works documenting and monitoring.
  •  Promote and support the establishment of mechanisms to clarify the fate of missing persons.

Activities associated with RFL program

There are number of activities linked closely to RFL program activities in psychological, legal and material support provided to the families and people affected.
These activities are:

  •   The development and dissemination of international law.
  •   Management of human remains and identification by forensic.
  •   Provide financial, legal and psychological support.
  •   Provide resettlement services.
  •   Develop reintegration programs.
  •   Reunification in the case of the failure of integration.
  •   Social welfare services.

Achievements of RFL program

Through RFL program, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority was able to make significant achievements, including:

  •  The Authority provided international relief works especially in Sudan, Somalia and Kyrgyzstan.  
  •  Supervision and coordination with the relevant authorities - the Ministry of Finance - for the contributions of the Authority and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
  •  Tracking modern development and the establishment of training programs:
    • Training course on RFL program.
    • Project Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards course in humanitarian response.
    • Developing and coordination of the Saudi team for help and humanitarian response program (Saudi Heart) and coordination with international organizations to contribute its expertise to support the team.
  •   Conducting partnerships and agreement with international bodies in the field of humanitarian action, including:
    • Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening the bonds of cooperation between the Saudi Red Crescent Authority and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
    • Memorandum of Understanding between the Saudi Red Crescent Authority and the Turkish Red Crescent.
    • Memorandum of the Declaration of Principles between the Saudi Red Crescent Authority and Islamic Relief Organization in the worldwide.
    • Memorandum of Understanding between the Saudi Red Crescent and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
    • Memorandum of Understanding between the Saudi Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide supportProjects taking care of the disabled.
    • Memorandum of Understanding between the Commission and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies bridging the digital divide; where the Authority contributed 1000.000 USD (only million US dollars) to support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in bridging the digital divide which was launched for the construction of the technical Red Crescent and Red Cross society, and to develop training skills in the computer field for employees and volunteers of the Authority. Furthermore to provide adequate technical and institutional support to enable these bodies and associations of maximum utilization of available services have in the initiative of bridging the digital divide launched by the international Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
    • Bilateral cooperation agreement between the International Federation and the Authority and tripartite agreement between the Authority, the International Federation and the Foreign Ministry.
  •   Hosting (10) of workers in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies by the Royal protocol to perform Hajj each year.
  •   Support the Conference of African Societies of Red Crescent and Red Cross, which was held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa dated 3-4/12/1433 H with the amount of 100,000 USD (one hundred thousand US dollars).
  •   His Royal Highness the President of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority received the Humanitarian Award of the Gulf Cooperation Council at its third session in 2014.
  •   His Royal Highness the President of the Saudi Red Crescent authority received a memorial from the director of the Middle East and North Africa to during his visit to the Authority.
  •   His Royal Highness the President of the Saudi Red Crescent authority received honorary shield from His highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan for what the effort provided by the Authority in humanitarian service.
  •   Exchange of visits and cooperation with local and international organizations.
  •   Support relief international conferences.
Family links in the Saudi Red Crescent Authority

Planning is very important for everyone as it is the opposite of randomness and spontaneity, improvisation and lack of system. Planning is a compass to determine direction for the success of the works and achievements, a guide to the future up to the desired goals. Thus, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority launched family links program between prisoners and their families through family messages and tracing requests and telephone and video communications of the detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq and Bagram and others from Saudi and other nationals whose families reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. for the families to be able to communicate with their children in collaboration with the international Committee in accordance with the strategy adopted for this program by the legislator authorities, this program spread the sense of relief for these families and their children, giving a remarkable impression on the work of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority.

Establishment of the program

The embodiment of the superior human meanings of compassion, empathy and solidarity which our beloved Kingdom's leadership government and people of Saudi Arabia follow, The Saudi Red Crescent Authority is seeking to put marks on the humanitarian map of values. That was the duty of the Authority to work on achieving harmony and integration among their departments to achieve these goals that the Authority were found for it. From that standpoint and from the Aspect of the commitment of the Authority including issues of the decisions and instructions of the national societies of the Red Crescent and the Cross was in 2009, the establishment of a separate department within the Directorate General for international Affairs in the Saudi Red Crescent Authority for restoring family links. This step has been the gradual establishment of this administration by granting all human and material resources to ensure the success of their work and to achieve the desired goal. Despite the fact that the actual activity began in 2003 by exchanging some messages, in 2009 has been considered the professional breakthrough which was the result of proper planning where it began telephony and video communications and work within the RFL prepared strategies.

RFL branches in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority began to develop a strategic plan to establish a national network for restoring family links where the launching started in Riyadh region, spreading later until the 13th office was created all distributed in every administrative region in Saudi Arabia.

  •   Attend the fifth meeting of RFL in Geneva in December 2012.
  •   Participate in Al-Jenadriyah cultural and heritage festival held in 2013.
  •  Assist detainee's family to visit their son at Bagram in Afghanistan.
  •   Visits for the families of the detainees barred from communicating in their homes and gathering news about them.
  •   Visiting Ha'ir prison for observing the services provided by the prison to detainees.
  •  Assist detainee's family in Lebanon, to visit their son.
  •   The Authority was able to meet with prisoners who have families in the UK and get to know their health status and their needs.
  •  Provide detainees at Guantanamo two patches of Zamzam water and some gifts of copies of the Holy Qur'an and Prayer rug and Miswak.

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