In August, 1994, a Bosnian woman living in the Netherlands
was desperate to find her thirteen-year-old son left behind
in Bosnia. Relatives in Germany suggested she contact Unaccompanied
Children in Exile, an international group of social workers
and lawyers in Zagreb, Croatia, that tries to reunite children
with their families. The first step, though, is finding the
children. And often parents, like the woman in the Netherlands,
have no idea where their children are.
Children in Exile has compiled a database on 5,000 children
separated from their families. Many of the children living
without parents are in Zagreb. Information about them usually
comes from Red Cross field agents working the streets. When
parents come searching for children, they are asked to provide
details, such as the child's last known address, the names
and location of any relatives, even the child's nickname.
If it's not a name on the database, the information is passed
to relief workers.
Ham radio paid off for the mother in the Netherlands. Two
months after she called UCE, a radio operator found her son
in Gorazde. One year later, she still hasn't seen him. He's
trapped in a Serbian army-held war zone. The Red Cross can't
get him out.