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Germany: Afghan son reconnects with family in Pakistan thanks to Red Cross website

Father bursts into tears of joy at recognising photo of his son on the Red Cross family links website.

Story by the German Red Cross


© G. Westrich/DRK-Suchdienst
At the end of July 2014, the German Red Cross Tracing Service received a tracing request from a young man who, together with his family, had fled from violence and persecution in Afghanistan.

On their way they had entrusted themselves to people smugglers, but these brutally separated the family in Turkey near to the border with Iran. The young man found himself entirely on his own and continued the perilous journey without his family. When he contacted the GRC Tracing Service, he had not heard from his mother, father or brothers for months and was in total despair. He was terribly worried about the members of his family and was delighted to use the possibility of the “Migrants in Europe” online tracing project with photos on the website His photo had been displayed there ever since.

At the start of February 2015, the German Red Cross Tracing Service received, via the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Peshawar, Pakistan, the tracing request from a man, originally from Afghanistan, who was looking for his son. He stated that people smugglers had separated him from his son during their escape. It occurred to a colleague at the German Red Cross Tracing Service that his story was similar in various aspects to that of the young man’s tracing request from July 2014. She immediately brought this to the attention of her ICRC colleagues in Peshawar. When the man looked at the photos on the website together with these colleagues at the local office, he immediately recognized his son in one of the photos. The father leapt to his feet, burst into tears of joy and exclaimed that he was so happy he couldn’t control his crying. His son in Germany was told immediately that his family had been found and was also jubilant. Since then the family has already been able to exchange a Red Cross Message and they have spoken with one another on the telephone. It was discovered that the smugglers had simply left the rest of the family in Turkey. The only option open to them therefore was to return until they arrived in Pakistan.

This case is representative of many highly emotional individual tracing stories. The successes to date of the Migrants in Europe platform with photos illustrate that this project can make a very important contribution to reconnecting families. This new approach also provides the opportunity to view the photos locally on the website together with those making the tracing request. A photo of their loved one might have already been published on the website and the family may finally be free from their agonizing uncertainty.

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