75 Years of Tracing

In 1937, the Belgian Red Cross founded a department, specifically designed to help Spanish children who ended up in Belgium during the Spanish Civil War. This department had the responsibility to aid the children in finding their parents, whom they were separated from somewhere along the way.

Now, in 2012, Tracing celebrates its 75th birthday. From 1937 onwards, we have assisted people who lived through most of the major conflicts or natural disasters that occurred in the meantime. The massive relocations that resulted from the Second World War, brought with them an exponential expansion of Tracing activities worldwide. Afterwards, there were the boat refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia in the seventies, defectors from the Eastern Block during the Cold War and so on. Time and again, Tracing tried to help these people get into contact with their loved ones at home. Which, of course, also meant being the harbinger of bad news on many occasions.

We remained active during more recent conflicts as well, of course. There was the Yugoslavian Civil War and the genocide in Rwanda during the early nineties, that created a great number of refugees. And, still timely, in 2001 there was the American invasion of Afghanistan, as a result of which, Tracing added more than 600 files to its archives, including 242 family reunifications. The Iraq war, which started in 2003, has so far led to 831 files, including 628 family reunifications.

And so we have kept at it, continually, holding true to our founding principle: the right to know. Because we believe that knowing the fate of a loved one is as important as food, clothes, shelter or medical care.

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