"Please save my country" says man on-route

Published: 3 November 2015 16:29 CET

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

”I love my country,” Saer, a 34-year-old refugee from Syria, says passionately. “Please help us save it so that we can go back and live there in peace.”

Saer sits on a blanket on the ground besides the train tracks with his wife and three children. They have just arrived by train to the border between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. After a short rest they will continue their long journey further north.

Saers’ family is among the 150,000 vulnerable migrants that have crossed the country since June, arriving at the transit camp on the outskirts of the small village of Tabanovce. From here, they will go by foot to the Serbian border some 500 meters away and then continue their slow walk to the nearest transit centre 2 kilometers further.

Hoping for a better future

In the grey weather and drizzling rain, two boys dressed in blue and green clothes with big brown eyes. Samir, 6, and Amjad, 4, are busy eating biscuits they received from Red Cross volunteers and warm soup served by a local humanitarian organization. Their mother, a civil engineer by profession, is taking care of their baby brother Maiar, 5 months, trying to clean up his wet and soiled shirt. A Red Cross staff member notices her struggles and brings her wet wipes, diapers and clean baby clothes.

“We are so grateful for the support we have received along the way,” Saer says. “My wife and I only want the best possible future for our children. A future where they are not surrounded by danger, where they have access to schools and hospitals.” Their current hope is to make it all the way to Sweden where Saer’s two brothers live.

Wishing for peace

The journey to safety has been long for the family, who are travelling together with relatives and friends. “If we had known that it would be this hard we probably would not have left,” Saer says referring especially to their perilous three hour journey in an overcrowded boat to Greece. Two friends, Abdurahim, 24, and Nuhad, 21, nod beside him. They all have hopes for the future.

“I’m an electrical systems engineer and hope to build a future in a country where I can study for a Master’s degree and start a family,” Abdurahim says. His younger cousin Nuhad is driven by an even  more romantic wish. “I’m in love with a girl in Sweden. I hope to marry her,” he says.

Saer is more sombre. “I only want to go back to my country. In Syria we had everything you might need including high standards of health care, education and other public services before the violence started. We had a good life. All I want now is peace.”