By Tim Bothe
Many children are separated from their parents and other family members due to armed conflict or other disasters. As a result, their status is seldom immediately clear, and so they are referred to as "separated" or "unaccompanied children" rather than orphans.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines unaccompanied refugee minors as children under the age of 18 who are separated from both parents, or do not have an adult who is responsible for them. Since the mid-1970s, the United States Refugee Program has resettled and served unaccompanied refugee minors. In recognizing the vulnerability of unaccompanied children, the U.S. Refugee Program requires that any child resettled with a non-relative be directed to Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the two national agencies with refugee foster care capabilities.
Although they have resettled in a new land, that does not mean that all hope has been lost to re-establish their connections with their birth families. This is where the Red Cross plays an important role. Through its Restoring Family Links program, the Red Cross seeks to reconnect unaccompanied refugee minors with their families. In addition to its traditional services, the Red Cross also provides free phone calls to try to make contact with loved ones to find out what happened to the rest of their family.
In Rwanda, 1,200 unaccompanied minors have recently been registered with the Red Cross. Forty-one have since been reunited with their families and nearly 400 are back in contact with their families.
Join us on December 2, 2015, as we learn more about the resettlement process for unaccompanied refugee minors from Betsy Laird of Lutheran Family Services.
Lunch And Learn: "In Their Best Interest: Unaccompanied Refugee Minors"
When: noon- 1 p.m., Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Location: American Red Cross, 444 Sherman Street, Denver, CO