08-08-2016 | Latest News , Africa

Family reunification: Nigerian children make the long journey home

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Armed conflict in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region has displaced an estimated two million people and Dar es Salaam refugee camp in Chad is now home to around 5,000 people. Many of them are children, and many of those children are completely alone.

“All of these children come from a town called Baga, on the shore of Lake Chad in the north east of Nigeria” explains International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegate Serena Tarabbia.

“The town was hit by the armed conflict in early January 2015, and this is when these children became separated from their families. They boarded some boats, tried to save their lives, and they reached Chad, whereas their family members fled by road.”

All over the world, the ICRC works to reunite families divided by conflict. But identifying lost children, and tracing their parents, can be very difficult. For Tarabbia and her colleagues in Chad it is often a painstaking process.

“Once we realized the children had no family members with them at all, we collected all the information they could give us about their families,” says Tarabbia.

“They had no precise idea about where their family members would be. We used the pictures of the children, we used the names of the children, and the names of their family members, and this is how we managed to locate their parents, their siblings, their grandparents.”

And so, after several months of painstaking tracing work, nine children and their families have finally been identified, and the children begin the long trip home. For some, it is hard to say goodbye to those who have been caring for them in Chad. For others, the journey itself seems a daunting prospect.

But at Maiduguri airport in Nigeria, they know their families are waiting, and as they get closer to their destination, the spirits of the young refugees begin to lift.

When the moment of reunification comes, it is overwhelming. Many parents had not dared hope they would see their children again. For some children, like 11 year old Ibrahim, the reunion brings grief as well as happiness. He has become an orphan, and his grandmother, who has come to meet him, is now his only relative.

Meanwhile, four- year old Bintu is just too young to properly remember her half-sister Aisha…and neither of them know where their mother is.

But for all these families, being together again is a huge relief.

“The ICRC together with the Nigerian Red Cross has reunited nine Nigerian children who had been displaced by the armed conflict in north east Nigeria to Chad” explains Tarabbia.

“We have reunited them with their families, their parents, their siblings, their grandparents, here in Nigeria.”

And so for these children, family life can begin again. But thousands more remain separated by conflict, alone in refugee camps and other places. The ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross Society are supporting the authorities in their effort to address the issue of the Missing persons. For these affected people and for all the families without news from relatives, the work of identification, tracing, and reunification must go on.

X The names of children have been changed to protect their privacy.

Shotlist

Location: Various
Length: 5:09
Format: HD H264 mov
Camera: Mark Kamau & Michael Olalekan Onilede
Sound: English
ICRC ref: AV520N
Date: July 2016 

Copyright: ICRC access all 

0:00 – 0:10 Dar es Salaam refugee camp, Chad
0:10 – 0:17 WS Refugee camp Chad
0:17 – 0:25 Boys playing football, pan round
0:25 – 0:29 Boy alone in foreground with football

SOUNDBITE Serena Tarabbia, Restoring Family Links Delegate, ICRC (in English):
0:29 – 0:50 “All of these children come from a town called Baga, on the shore of Lake Chad in the north east of Nigeria. The town was hit by the armed conflict in early January 2015, and this is when these children became separate from their families. They boarded some boats, tried to save their lives, and they reached Chad, whereas their family members fled by road.”

0:50 – 1:10 ICRC vehicles pulling away, children and women milling around
1:10 – 1:23 Women approaching ICRC vehicles

SOUNDBITE Serena Tarabbia, Restoring Family Links Delegate, ICRC (in English):
1:23 – 1:45 (Internal edit at 1:35) “Once we realized the children had no family members with them at all, we collected all the information they could give us about their families. They had no precise idea about where their family members would be. We used the pictures of the children, we used the names of the children, and the names of their family members, and this is how we managed to locate their parents, their siblings, their grandparents.”

1:45 – 1:58 Young girls climbing into ICRC vehicle
1:58 – 2:05 Woman presses face against window
2:05 – 2:08 Five children in ICRC vehicle
2:08 – 2:14 ICRC vehicle driving away
2:14 – 2:25 Children approaching ICRC plane
2:25 – 2:37 small girl being carried up stairs of plane
2:37 – 2:43 boys seated in plane
2:43 – 2:46 wide angle from back of plane
2:46 – 2:51 very young girl in her seat
2:51 – 2:56 girl in blue looks out window
2:56 – 3:00 Close up looking out window
3:00 – 3:06 Wing of plane from window
3:06 – 3:10 Boy looking out window
3:10 – 3:14 Boy in aisle dancing
3:14 – 3:20 Girl begins to sing
3:20 – 3:25 Girls laughing and singing
3:25 – 3:29 Children getting off plane at Maiduguri airport, Nigeria
3:29 – 3:36 Children walking across tarmac
3:36 – 3:42 Bintu in blue with half sister Aisha
3:42 – 3:58 Ibrahim reunited with his grandmother
3:58 – 4:04 Ibrahim and grandmother weeping
4:04 – 4:19 Very small girl reunited with woman in white
4:19 – 4:33 elderly man with young girl, pans on to man with two boys

SOUNDBITE Serena Tarabbia, Restoring Family Links Delegate, ICRC (in English):
4:33 - 4:50 “The ICRC together with the Nigerian Red Cross has reunited 9 Nigerian children who had been displaced by the armed conflict in northeast Nigeria to Chad. We have reunited them with their families, their parents, their siblings, their grandparents, here in Nigeria.”

4:50 – 5:09 ICRC vehicle leaving refugee camp, little boy running after crying.

END

Duration : 5m 10s
Size : 748.5 MB

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