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IRCS to Support unaccompanied Minors
June 12th, 2008  

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‘According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Action Research on Trafficking, (2005) an average of 44,000 children are reported missing every year, out of which 11,000 remain untraced’ informed Prof. (Dr) S. P. Agarwal, Secretary General, IRCS during the inauguration of the one day Consultation Meeting on Unaccompanied Children organized at Disaster Management Center of the Indian Red Cross Society. The meeting was attended by the representatives from eleven organizations working with vulnerable children namely Prayas, Haqq, Childline Network, UNICEF, Don Bosco- Youth at Risk Homelink, Salaam Balak Trust and Save the Children.

Deliberating upon the purpose of the meeting, Dr. Agarwal stated that the occasion provides a platform to develop inter-linkages between various organizations who are working for the cause of the children. This would also help us in avoiding the duplication of work, bridging the gap and finally benefiting more unfortunate children. We are building the capacity at IRCS at National, State and District level to implement services that protect the interest of our children.

Mr. Thomas Russell, Regional Co-operation Delegate, ICRC stated that ‘IRCS role in family news service has scaled up. Unaccompanied children are a vulnerable category and are one of the target groups in the Restoring Family Links (RFL) strategy for 2008-2018. ICRC is committed to strengthen the network of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, including IRCS, to assist unaccompanied children to find their families.

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The meeting was unique as it brought together missing children tracking organizations in the country. The organizations discussed their role and responsibilities vis-à-vis the evolving Government initiatives to protect minor children. Childline Network, which is the project of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, has a toll free line (1098) to which children in distress may call for help.

Children are the most vulnerable during any emergency. IRCS, with the technical support from the ICRC will strengthen its Family News Services for unaccompanied children by training its staff and volunteers to deliver effective and timely support and by increasing
its network with government and non-governmental organizations to establish a functional referral mechanism.
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