Over 500 vulnerable migrants treated daily by the Red Cross in FYR of Macedonia

تم النشر: 14 أكتوبر 2015 15:51 CET

Caroline Haga, IFRC

Since the middle of June, over 105,000 refugees and other vulnerable migrants have entered the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia. The vast majority travel from the southern border with Greece to the northern border with Serbia. At both crossings, the Red Cross of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has medical teams providing assistance.

“I learn something new every day.”

Dr Bojana is a Red Cross volunteer in Gevgelija, by the border with Greece. “When I heard that the Red Cross needed doctors here, I immediately called them and offered to help,” she said. As part of a Red Cross medical team she works with three paramedics and a translator. There are five teams.

A small, mobile home serves a makeshift clinic and most people come here to receive medical care, but Dr Bojana also rushes between tents to see patients. The days are busy and long.

“We work in 12 hour shifts for three days in a row,” she said. “I think I see around 250 patients a day but thankfully only about 10-15 cases are severe enough to be referred to hospital. Sometimes they only need a doctor to reassure them that everything is OK.”

Despite the constant stress, Dr Bojana she is happy to be helping. “I love this job. I’m lucky to be learning something new from each patient every day.” 

“I dream of one day visiting my home country again.”

300 kilometres north of Gevgelija, in Tabanovce by the border with Serbia, another Red Cross doctor is does a similar job, but has another reason for wanting to help. Dr Abdullah, first came from Syria to FYR of Macedonia 32 years ago. Seeing fellow Syrians escaping the conflict is an emotional experience. "When the migrants realize that I'm also Syrian, they often get so emotional that they hug me and we cry together," he said with tears in his eyes..

While the numbers of migrants crossing the border vary each day, the first days of October saw a daily average of 5,000 people. Dr Abdullah is working six days a week, treating between 250-350 patients every day. As many migrants come from Arabic speaking countries such as Syria and Iraq, he feels that his history is a great asset. “Patients trust and understand me as I speak their language,” he said.

During the past 32 years, Dr Abdullah has moved between FYR of Macedonia and his home city of Homs in Syria. When the situation deteriorated in Homs, he decided to live in Europe permanently. Unfortunately his family was not able to join him.

“My parents and my two brothers were killed in Homs, and all together 30 members of my extended family have lost their lives during the war,” he said. His personal losses and the emotional encounters with fellow Syrians has made working in Tabanovce a tough experience. Still, Dr Abdullah is determined to continue assisting vulnerable people as long as it is needed, while harbouring hope for a peaceful future for Syria. “Personally, I dream of one day being able to visit my home country again,” he said.