Afghan family fights to stay strong after six months in border camp limbo

Published: 4 October 2016 16:47 CET

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

Mother-of-two Hamida Husseini  was a manager at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics. Today, she shares a small container her husband and  young daughters in Gevgelija on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s border with Greece. This steel box without running water has been their home for the past six months as they await news about the asylum request.

“I worry about my eldest daughter Zahro, who is who eight years old,  missing out on education as each day goes by,” the 30-year-old said.

More than 120 people have been stranded at the Gevgelija reception centre for at least six months.  The Husseini family have applied for asylum in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia but have yet to find out their fate.

“We don’t know what the future will bring but we hope – like everyone else – to get a safe home, jobs and schooling for our children,” Hamida said.

The journey has been traumatic for the family.  Both parents were injured when they fell down a hill on route to Gevgelija and Hamida became separated from her husband.

“For 24 hours I didn’t know where my husband was but then I got a call from the police that he had been found,” she said.

A medical team from the Red Cross of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is onsite in Gevgelija 24 hours a day.  Food and emergency items such as blankets and clothes are also provided and a play area for the reception centre’s children has been set up.

 “At first the children were scared, stressed and depressed from their experiences and didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t want to be separated from me for a minute,” Hamid explained.

“Now they are calmer and have made friends here.”

Although Gevgelija camp has basic facilities and languages classes, in cannot provide what matters most to the Husseini family.

“I try to think of the good things to give my children positive energy. But this centre is not a home and we have no idea about what will happen to us in the future,” Hamida said.

Red Cross operations in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are funded by the IFRC’s emergency appeal of more than six million Swiss francs, which includes financial support from the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and other donors.