Dignity for migrants pausing in Slovenia

تم النشر: 5 نوفمبر 2015 7:36 CET

By John Engedal Nissen, IFRC

It is just a few hours since a group of vulnerable migrants arrived at Gornja Radgona - one of two accommodation centres near the Austrian border. It is their last stop in Slovenia.

The group of about 300 migrants sits in the dining area of the centre. They have just received a hot meal - a filling soup of chicken, potatoes and carrots as well as some bread - distributed by Red Cross volunteers. Now they wait to cross the border to Austria. Meanwhile, the Red Cross volunteers continue to assist the people on the move with their different needs.

A small and simple clinic has been set up in one corner where volunteer Nina Mavrin, 32, and others provide first aid.

“Most come with minor issues, but they are worried. If they are very sick we take them to the hospital. We also distribute diapers for their babies,” says Mavrin, who uses her vacation time to help the many migrants.

One of them is Nisar Ahmed from Afghanistan, who waits outside the clinic with his two-year-old daughter and wife. He has a headache, a sore throat and a cough he explains with gestures and a few English words.

“Someone must do something”

In another corner of the centre, Anja Petersen, 52, and other volunteers are also busy. They move back and forth between the space where the donated clothing and shoes are stored and a group of migrants who are pushing up against a metal barrier explaining their needs.

“Jacket?” Petersen asks one of the migrants, miming putting on a jacket. Few speak English, she explains.

When asked why she has stepped up to help the people on the move, Petersen answers, “Someone must do something. I felt so sorry for them and how they have had to flee their country. They must be very afraid. When I saw images of the situation in the news, I thought ‘what can I do?’”

So she came from Switzerland to help for the weekend.

“Shoes. 42,” another migrant asks in English. Right then, a translator calls for everyone to come outside using a megaphone.

Happy for the attention

Within a few minutes the group stands in a long queue. One of them is Aisha, a Syrian girl travelling with her family. Her mother hurries to comb her hair when she notices that she is being photographed. The family is clearly happy for the attention. Aisha smiles shyly , but her brother quickly asks the few sentences he’s learned in English: “How are you? … I am fine, thank you.”

“Goodbye friend, goodbye brother,” some of the migrants say as they pass a Red Cross worker. Led by three policemen, the group walks by a football field where a match is currently being played and then through a small park. A family on the playground stop and watch as the group walks on towards the Austrian border some hundred metres further.