Volunteers help refugees find lost family members through social media

IZMIR, Turkey
Published 27.04.2016 00:00
Updated 27.04.2016 01:36

Social media platforms, including the Lost Refugees page, have been established to help Syrian refugees searching for their lost relatives, after their dangerous and illegal journey to European countries. Volunteer organizations are helping refugees to find their family members through social media accounts and websites. Fidel Kaya, a volunteer for Lost Refugees, said that it is much easier to find any news about lost relatives on similar sites, instead of searching on Google or other search engines. Lost Refugees website can be accessed in multiple languages through www.lostrefugees.com or through their namesake Facebook account.

The website was set up around three months ago, and refugees can enter details and photos of their lost relatives by filling online forms. The platform is currently available in 12 languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic, as well as Turkish. "We are trying to help them as much as we can," said Kaya. He decided to create the platform after meeting two sisters, who lost their mother and other siblings when the boat carrying them sank in the Aegean. "I was taking these girls to psychologists every week and when I learned their story, I came up with this idea," he said. The platform works together with Refunite, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reconnect separated families across the globe. Refunite's website is offered in many languages, and can be found at m.refunite.org or through Facebook.

On the website, details about dozens of lost people are seen as well as photos. "He left on Thursday 9:30 pm in a boat, and the [boat] sank after 15 min and he is lost between 2 points Altunoluk and Lesvos Island and the police didn't find him until now," reads one of the missing person announcements. There are reports of lost children and young mothers, as well as of those lost near the borders.

According to recent data, 173 refugees lost their lives this year due to either hypothermia or drowning. Last year on this date, the number was 279. The European Union (EU) and Ankara struck a deal in March to cut off the sea crossing from Turkey to the islands. The agreement allows for the return of irregular migrants to Turkey from Greece in exchange for Syrian refugees to be relocated within the EU. Since the agreement, drowning cases have sharply dropped.

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