Longing for son while stuck in limbo

Published: 27 September 2016 16:00 CET

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

More than 200 people have been stranded in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia since the borders closed around them six months earlier. One of them is Fauzia Abdulhamid Ali who patiently waits with her three children for the day when she can be reunited with her eldest son in Germany.

Fauzia Abdulhamid Ali, a single mother from Syria, stands outside by the stove preparing a tomato sauce.  The 37-year-old is among dozens of people, mostly Syrian, stranded in Tabanovce at the country’s northern border with Serbia.

 “We began this journey so that we could reunite with my 17-year-old son Lockwan who has been in Germany for a year now. He is sick and I’m very worried about him,” Fauzia says.

Staying calm for the kids as boat filled with water

Fauzia took the decision to set out on the difficult and dangerous journey with her three younger children – Enji ,12, ten-year-old Youssef  and four-year-old Jaku - when she felt that she didn’t have a choice. As a Kurd she felt increasingly threatened in war-torn Syria and when she couldn’t reach Kurdistan in Iraq, she headed towards Europe for safety.

“The first boat we got on in Greece was overcrowded and started to fill with water,” she said.

“Everyone else started crying and screaming but I had to stay calm for my children not to be scared.

“We finally made it to an island but it was empty.  We had to wait there for two days without anything – no food or shelter.”

Fauzia fought to protect her children along the harrowing route and in March, they arrived in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Now, they live in a container at the camp with little control over what the future holds as they wait to move on.

Volunteers from the Red Cross of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is working day and night at Tabanovce. They provide first aid as well as three meals a day and emergency supplies like coats, blankets and toiletries.

Although Fauzia and the children are coping in the camp, the longing for her eldest son never lessens.

“My only dream is for my children,” she says. “I hope that we call all be together,  they all finish high school and become good people. Then I’ll be happy all my life.”

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.