Among the challenges refugees are facing when escaping war and terror, being separated from their family members might be the worst. Since 2008, a website provides refugees with a digital tracing system for missing family members. Founded by Danish brothers David and Christopher Mikkelsen, “REFUNITE – Connecting families” is run by a main office in Copenhagen, with a second branch in Nairobi.
The idea for REFUNITE was born after the Mikkelsen brothers met Mansour, a young refugee from Afghanistan who had not seen or spoken to his family members since he was violently separated from them by human traffickers in Pakistan. Without a professional tracing system at hand, it took them 3 years to eventually locate one of Mansour’s brothers in a small Russian city.
On the REFUNITE website, refugees can register themselves or missing relatives. The nonprofit organization helps to connect registered people. Some 25 team members and volunteers assist with the search. According to the team, up to 150 displaced people are able to reconnect with their families every month.
While the United Nations have not significantly updated their tracing systems for displaced persons since the end of World War II, REFUNITE provides a professional, technology based portal free of charge. It further distinguishes from other websites by offering information in seven languages.