International Day of the Disappeared
Missing migrants: “Trace the Face” reconnects one family every week
Bulgarian Red Cross
Each year, thousands of migrants go missing on their way to Europe. Families get separated, loved ones end up in different corners of the world, unaware of where their relative is and whether he/she is safe. To help families find missing loved ones, several European Red Cross National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched an online tool called “Trace the Face” ( in 2013. This website allows people separated from their family to post a picture of themselves to advertise their search. This year alone, an average of one family a week could restore contact with a separated loved one after launching their search on this website.

Since its creation, “Trace the Face” has reunited 114 families. Finding missing people often takes time, and during that period of separation, families are in pain. Recently, a 13-year-old boy spoke to his father after three years. The young boy lives in Finland with other relatives and his father is in Germany.

In order to help even more people reconnect, the ICRC is working on technological developments for the website, like facial recognition and name algorithms. This autumn, several interactive booths would be placed in migrant and asylum centres run by the French, Italian and German Red Cross.

“I have been following ‘Trace the Face’ since its creation, and it is encouraging to see the progress made! More and more families are getting reunited, and more and more countries are participating” stresses Wilhelm Odde, who is in charge of the ICRC’s Restoring Family Links programme at the Paris regional delegation that covers many European countries. With more countries participating in Trace the Face and publishing photos, there is an increased chance of finding the lost relatives. Initially launched and used by the European Red Cross National Societies, the tool is now being used by a number of ICRC delegations and Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies along the migratory route to Europe.

On this International Day of the Disappeared, help us spread the word by sharing the website link and the Facebook page. More than 4,000 people who have published their photos on “Trace the Face” are still looking for their lost relatives.

For further information, please contact:
76 James Boucher Blvd. ; Phone 1: (+359 2) 49 23 039;
Phone 2: (+359 2) 49 23 040 ; E-mail: