Searching for missing persons

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War, displacement, migration or family conflicts – there are many reasons why families lose touch or become separated. The SRC Tracing Service can help you look for missing relatives.

Our Tracing Service

  • We provide counselling and support.

  • We search for missing persons.

  • We pass on Red Cross news.

  • We investigate the fate of missing persons and potential burial locations.

  • We help you find personal documents and obtain access to files.

  • We obtain confirmation of detention through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The SRC Tracing Service helps people search for missing relatives all over the world. It works with the ICRC and the tracing services of more than 190 other Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies.

REDOG

Rescue dog teams

REDOG rescue dog teams search for missing persons in Switzerland, for example people with dementia or buried under rubble. The rescue teams are all volunteers.

Contact REDOG

How do I start my search?

Temporary halt in accepting new search requests

Due to the considerable backlog created by the cyberattack and last year’s increase (approx. 35%) in requests, the Tracing Service will not be accepting any new search requests until further notice. The team and volunteers will focus on processing existing searches over the next few months.

We are doing everything we can to be able to accept new requests again as soon as possible. We will provide information on how we will proceed going forward at the end of July.

Contact details

You can send us your contact details at tracing@redcross.ch. We will then be able to inform you by e-mail or SMS as soon as new requests are being accepted again. We need the following details:

  • Mobile phone number or e-mail address

  • Year of birth

  • Nationality

UKRAINE CONFLICT

Requests regarding people in Ukraine

For information and questions concerning the conflict in Ukraine, you can contact us by phone (058 400 43 80).

What you can do

In the meantime, you have the following options:

Tracing services network, Switzerland

The following organizations can support you in searching for individuals:

The SRC Tracing Service adheres to these principles

  • Your personal details and those of the missing person are kept strictly confidential. We discuss with you how we will use these details before starting the search.

  • We talk to you about the most suitable approach to take.

  • We always ask the missing person whether they would like to re-establish contact.

  • Our services are free of charge. However, donations are always welcome.

Q&A regarding the cyberattack on the ICRC

On 18 January 2022, the ICRC detected a cyberattack on one of its databases. The database concerned is the basis for the work of our SRC Tracing Service. All information on search requests – both ongoing and completed – is saved in the database concerned.

The cyberattack is being investigated thoroughly by the ICRC. It stored and coordinated the international exchange of the data of more than 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

The authors of the cyberattack are unknown. To date, there is also no evidence that the stolen data have been published.

We need a range of information to support people in their search for missing relatives. Where were the relatives last seen? When did they last have contact with them? Every detail can help in the search. With the agreement of those affected, this information is shared in a targeted manner within the network – which increases the chances of finding the missing relatives. To provide this assistance, we often need to collect and save personal details.

The breach involved around 18’000 datasets. The data concerned are personal details provided to us by those searching. These include sensitive data such as

  • full name,

  • contact details (e-mail address, telephone number, etc.),

  • names and other personal details of family members being looked for,

  • details on the circumstances of their disappearance, and

  • correspondence and documents for the search and establishing contact.

At present, the ICRC assumes that the data were copied and exported. To date, there is no evidence that they have been published or offered for sale. The ICRC teams monitor this incident carefully. The ICRC immediately suspended access to the databases worldwide as a protective measure.

The ICRC has been investigating the breach and evaluated the risks and impact as follows: www.icrc.org/en/document/icrc-cyber-attack-analysis

Together with the ICRC, we will assess the potential risks for those affected on an ongoing basis and, if necessary, take specific action in individual cases.

The Swiss authorities have been informed transparently and in full. The SRC remains in contact with them and is able draw on the proven cooperation.

The SRC takes data protection and information security very seriously. We secure our IT systems according to industry standards and, where needed, take all necessary measures to protect your data and minimize potential risks as far as possible.

Tell us if you notice anything unusual. Call us if you have questions or concerns. We’re here for you.

Preventive measures

  • If you receive a suspicious e-mail or text message, delete it immediately; do not forward it. The message may appear to be from a reputable source (e.g. the Red Cross).

  • Never reply to suspicious messages and do not enter personal information such as your username, password, ID number, medical information, etc.

  • If in doubt, contact us: tracing@redcross.ch / 058 400 43 80.

The intentions of the cybercriminals are as yet unknown. At present, it is assumed that the data were copied and exported. The consequences are currently limited to illegal access by unauthorized persons. Further consequences are currently still unclear.

When people are missing, their families and friends experience considerable fear and uncertainty. These cyberattacks to a large extent impede our ability to collaborate with our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners and provide families with answers as to where their relatives are. Every day, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement helps 12 people to restore contact with their relatives. This important work has been jeopardized by the cyberattack.

Other SRC IT systems are not affected by the cyberattack. This means that only data from the SRC Tracing Service are affected. Donor-related data and other sensitive data, such as living wills and registration details for healthcare professions are not affected. These data all run on separate IT systems, which are not affected by the cyberattack.

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