Amir from Benghazi

Published: 3 February 2016 11:33 CET

The 19 years he has spent volunteering with the Libyan Red Crescent could not prepare Amir Al Ammari for what he experienced one day in September 2015 when a boat capsized off the Libyan coast, killing up to 400 people who were trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Amir had been visiting local Red Crescent branches when he heard about the emergency. He rushed to help his colleagues at the Zuwarah branch to provide support to the survivors, and to retrieve the bodies of those who died in the incident.

"As volunteers with the dead body management unit, we have gotten used to seeing things like this on a regular basis and this stopped affecting us emotionally," said Amir.

"But asking a mother to identify the body of her son and seeing her collapse when she confirms that it is actually him is completely different, and something that I had never experienced before," continues Amir with a shaking voice, as he struggles to hold back the tears.

Amir has been a volunteer with the Libyan Red Crescent in Benghazi since he was just 11 years old. Thanks to his dedication, hard work and enthusiasm, he now has several different responsibilities in the National Society. Along with his work in the dead body management unit, he is the head of youth and volunteers office, works also volunteers for other tasks when he has free time.

Over the years, his local branch in Benghazi has become like a second home for him; Amir’s family home was destroyed during the recent unrest. His family moved to another part of the country afterwards, but he remained in Benghazi, dedicated to his tasks with the Red Crescent.

"I have known all of these people since 1997. I see them every day and over the past year and five months, we have been living together, eating together, and working together," he explains.

“The Libyan Red Crescent runs in my blood. When you are a humanitarian, you experience a feeling that no one else can ever experience. It is giving without asking or expecting anything in return,” he said.