In wide-scale emergencies like natural disasters or armed conflict, kids become separated from their parents or guardians and are vulnerable to harm.
Current practices to track down the families of separated children are slow and difficult.
But a solution has been developed in the form of a free mobile phone app.
Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification (RapidFTR) is a data storage system that helps humanitarian workers collect, sort and share information about separated children so they can be quickly registered for care services and reunited with their families.
RapidFTR was developed by volunteers at the Child Protection in Emergencies Team at UNICEF and has received funding from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and UNICEF Supply Division.
Currently, Save the Children and Uganda Red Cross are using RapidFTR to find children’s family members at a Rwamwanja settlement that has taken in tens of thousands of Congolese refugees and is reaching its maximum capacity of 50,000 residents.
“Before RapidFTR, we would have to use paper and fill out lots of forms to get all the details,” said Child Protection Officer of Save the Children Fatuma Arinaitwe. “This took a lot of time, and then we would go around with a list of names and ask people if they knew these children.”
Refugees arrive at the transit center first where they are registered and kids without parents or guardians are identified.
Information about each child is entered into a mobile phone with RapidFTR and a photo is taken and uploaded. Protection officers at other camps can access the information and begin searching for the child’s family before he/she even arrives.
RapidFTR is helping humanitarian workers search for Pascal’s family. Pascal is 15 years old and arrived at the camp a month ago after fleeing from his village in the Democratic Republic of Congo when the rebels attacked his village. He was at school and had to flee without his family.
Pascal is only one of the many children who have crossed the border unaccompanied by family since the fighting started in 2011.
With the help of RapidFTR, humanitarian workers will more easily and quickly track down the families of children like Pascal.
– Kasey Beduhn
Source: UNICEF, RapidFTR