Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

Guatemala: family reunited after 25 years apart

Publisher International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Publication Date 22 February 2012
Cite as International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Guatemala: family reunited after 25 years apart, 22 February 2012, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

After 25 years separated from her parents and siblings by the armed conflict, Juana Morales was reunited with them in Guatemala City.

In 1987, Juana – who was just eight months old – was at her grandparents' house when an armed raid took place. Her father, Antonio Morales, her mother and her two siblings were forced to flee and had to leave her behind.

They left their community in Ixtahuacan, Huehuetenango, and sought refuge in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Juana spent the next 25 years with her grandparents, not knowing what had become of her family

Juana instigated the search when she found out that the Guatemalan Mutual Support Group could help her to track down her parents. For more than 20 years, the Group has been carrying out searches on behalf of families separated by the armed conflict. It successfully reunites some 15 families each year. The ICRC has been supporting the Group since 2004 and carries out similar work with three other organizations. In 2011, the ICRC provided support for the reunification of 51 such families in Guatemala.

The search for Juana's family lasted eight months and had a positive outcome. "The investigation took longer than usual because we had so little information to go on. Nevertheless, we were successful," said Enrique Barrera, a Group investigator.

Antonio was overcome with emotion when he saw his baby daughter again, although she was now 25 years old. It was clear that his joy was mingled with sadness.

"Thank God they came to find me," were the first words Antonio uttered, when he was able to talk calmly again. Juana, with a broad smile, could only exclaim in happiness.

"I never lost hope that I would find my parents one day," said Juana, who was still coming to terms with the emotions released by the reunion.

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