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Challenges linked to tracing

There are many reasons why families around the world lose contact with each other today. The four main countries of origin of the inquirers who have contacted the GRC Tracing Service in recent years are Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Syria. The main international reasons for family separation are thus flight and migration from countries where armed conflict or fear of persecution prevails.

Migrants often set off alone or in small groups. Most of them have their own mobile phones or smartphones, but these can easily get lost when fleeing. We observe various reasons that may lead to a loss of contact, these include:

  • particular vulnerability of those affected (e.g. victims of human trafficking, minors, illiteracy),
  • imprisonment,
  • no access to means of communication or access to electricity and the Internet,
  • death and failure to notify relatives.

The GRC Tracing Service provides neutral assistance to people in Germany searching for a relative which is based solely on emigration-related separation, regardless of their residence status.

The challenge in many cases lies in the fact that the searching persons themselves often have no (or no longer have any) clues as to the country of transit or destination in which their relatives might be or might be suspected to be. An active search with the help of other Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies or the ICRC is then often not possible. We are therefore constantly adapting our tracing methods and tools to meet these challenges.

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