Red Cross reunites 68 year old refugee with family after 11 years

Red Cross reunites 68 year old refugee with family after 11 years
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It was excitement on Tuesday as 68 year old Dusenge Rambahose,a Congolese refugee was reunited with her family by Uganda Red Cross , International Committee of the Red Cross Uganda and partners after 11 years.

The development is a  milestone for the Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) programme in Uganda, supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Genesis

Dusenge  together with her 33-year-old Rambahose Musekura, and husband (deceased) fled DRC 11 years ago, during fierce fighting in the country in March 2012.

They had lived in in Gachemo Binza Kiwanja, DRC but on the fateful day, live bullets were heard the whole night and many people were killed, prompting the 68 year old to run with her  husband and sick son, and crossed to Uganda.

Unfortunately, her husband died when they arrived in Uganda, and was buried in Rwamwanja refugee settlement in southwestern Uganda.

Upon arrival, at the Nyakabande transit center, the Uganda Red Cross family tracing desk was registering people with missing persons and Dusenge  registered missing children whom she said had ran to different directions due to the chaos and hadn’t seen each other since.

In 2012, Dusenge was relocated by UNHCR Uganda, the UN agency responsible for refugees in the country, from the Nyakabande transit center (Western Uganda) to Rwamwanja refugee settlement (South Western Uganda).

Through the Uganda Red Cross community activities, Dusenge was identified by the Restoration of Family Links (RFL) volunteers during their routine field follow-ups and sensitizations as and was registered as a vulnerable adult.

She has since then been living with his 33 year old disabled son who also has heart problems, vision impairment and cant support himself yet the mother is elderly, sickly and unable to help herself and the son.

This state of affairs compelled the Red Cross team to engage her to locate any relative who could support the family.

The team initiated a tracing request and for the last six years, intensive search for Dusenge’s family members has been on.

A smile covered Dusenge’s face when the tracing request turned positive through both a phone call and a Red Cross Message (TC/RCM).

One of her children Museruka Rambahose 40 years was traced in Isanja, Juru base camp, Nakivale Refugee Settlement (southern Uganda) on September 19, 2023.

The news brought excitement and Dusenge couldn’t help cry tears of joy while speaking to her son on phone.

On Tuesday,  after successfully going through all government of Uganda procedures, Dusenge with Ndengejeho were taken by the Uganda Red Cross team from Rwamwanja to Nakivale to reunite with her other son ,Museruka.

The three met for the first time, after 11 years of separation.

“It was an emotional moment for everyone involved,” said Irene Nakasiita, the Communications and  Partnerships Director at the Uganda Red Cross Society.

“It was tears of joy, songs of happiness and much excitement. Seeing the happiness in their faces after enduring so much pain fills us with gratitude, and makes us appreciate the efforts by the family tracing team. Looking at the distance covered and the process involved brings so much joy to us, knowing that the family can now rejoice together and live together once again, as they used to while in back home in DRC.”

Dusenge couldn’t believe her eyes at seeing her long lost son.

“I choose the praise the Lord for what he has done for me,” she said.

“I thank Red Cross team for helping us meet and reunite after this long time. May God bless you. I can’t cry, because I am a man but I am so happy. I praise the Lord too for bringing my mother in my face. I thought she died," Musekura said while lifting his hands in the air.

Family unification program

Many people are separated from their families due to emergencies such as disasters, and war, among other reasons and the program by Uganda Red Cross with support from ICRC involves case workers covering long distances, tracing children and their parents, vulnerable adults, and all categories of people, to reunite them with missing family members.

“We use Red Cross messages, Phone calls, pictures or photographs and any information provided by family members to locate any missing persons,” aid Benard Manishimwe, Program Officer for RFL Programme.

“Despite all the difficulties, almost every week we see one or several children, adults brought back to where they belong, and reunite with their families. We appreciate the support given by the ICRC, the Government of Uganda through the office of the Prime Minister, the department of refugees, UNHCR, and other partners involved in protection-related activities. To reunite children, and other separated family members, we need strong partnerships and support from the different players,” Nakasiita added.

Hillary Ahimibisibwe, Assistant Settlement Commandant in charge of Juru Zone (OPM – Nakivale refugee settlement) appreciated the support of the Uganda Red Cross and other partners to help in family tracing and other protection components.

“We were informed about Dusenge’s case and we thank the Red Cross for making the unification possible. As the government of Uganda, we commit to supporting all refugees and we will ensure that she settles well in this settlement, as her new home,” Ahimbisibwe noted.

 

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