A Lost and Found for Families

| January-February 2010

  • A Refugee Family

    image by REUTERS / Erik de Castro

  • A Refugee Family

Refugee families separated while they’re fleeing from countries plagued by war and turmoil now have a tool to locate one another.

Christopher and David Mikkelsen, inspired by the story of Mansour, a 12-year-old boy from Afghanistan in search of his family, hatched Refugees United (www.refunite.org), a nonprofit networking website that helps separated refugees find their family members.

“We began discussing why no one had created a system capable of transcending borders, barriers, conflicts, and bureaucracy,” Christopher tells Developments (#45). “A person-to-person network of hope, providing refugees and the organizations assisting them with a multilingual, simple, and streamlined family search engine, programmed to cater to the needs of people with low computer literacy but with a high degree of security and anonymity.”

The site is available in 24 languages, and users can create profiles and search for others, though in the interest of safety, members are cautioned to only use “nicknames, scars, former locations, and other markers identifiable to family and close friends.”

So far, Mansour has found his younger brother; now he must hope that word about the website spreads to the rest of his family.

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