Restoring Family Links

Restoring Family Links (RFL)

Under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL), individuals have the right to know the fate of missing relatives. While State authorities primarily bear the responsibility, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement play a crucial role in Restoring Family Links (RFL). This service, rooted in the principle of humanity, is a testament to the global network’s unique character.

Initiation and Scope:

The Ethiopian Red Cross Society launched its RFL Service during the Ethio-Somali War of 1976-77. Since then, in collaboration with the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), the Society consistently provides RFL services. This involves tracing missing persons, registering vulnerable individuals, and facilitating communication between separated families.

Services Provided:

The Ethiopian Red Cross Society’s RFL Service includes:

  • Exchange of family news through Red Cross Messages (RCM) and oral messages
  • Facilitating connectivity means like free phone calls, internet access, and phone charging in challenging locations
  • Tracing individuals worldwide using the Movement’s network
  • Registering and monitoring vulnerable individuals to prevent their disappearance
  • Reuniting and repatriating families in cooperation with the ICRC
  • Providing health and welfare reports for children and vulnerable adults

Key Facts:

  • The service prioritizes data protection and maintains the privacy of individuals.
  • It is a humanitarian service, and no fees are charged at any stage.
  • Tracing may take time, requiring patience from beneficiaries.
  • Adoption and genealogical searches in certain regions are not hosted by national societies.
  • ERCS does not initiate tracing for combatants but can report captured combatants to the ICRC.

Accessing the Service:

  • In Ethiopia, approach the ERCS local branch or RFL service centers in refugee and internally displaced camps.
  • If outside Ethiopia, contact the Red Cross Red Crescent National Society in your current country of residence.

Contact Information:

  • Address: Ethiopian Red Cross Society National Headquarters Tracing Service, Ras Desta Damtew Avenue, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • P.O. Box: 195
  • Phone: +251 11 552 7110
  • Website: