Syrian medic in search of safety on the frontline of Red Cross response in Greece

Publié: 5 avril 2016 16:33 CET

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

”Do you need help in translations,” a young man asks in fluent English outside a Red Cross medical tent in Idomeni, Greece. He is 24-year-old Amer Alabboush, a former Syrian Red Crescent volunteer now fleeing for his life. Along with more than 50,000 people, he has become stranded in Greece as the borders closed around them.

Amer is in Idomeni at the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where conditions are dire. At night, he sleeps outside, having given his tent to a family on a particularly wet night. During the day, he volunteers as a translator at the Hellenic Red Cross health clinic.

 “Ive been helping people for more than five years in Syria, so its in my blood,” he says.

Amer is travelling with three friends who also worked as Red Crescent volunteers. For them, helping families along the route has become a habit.

Saving lives in Syria

Before setting out on his perilous journey to safety, Amer spent two-and-a-half years as head of the Red Crescent first aid team in Deir ez-Zor.

Striving to save lives in Syrias seventh largest city as war raged around him took its toll on Amer. And was eventually the reason he had to leave.

“There was always a bomb somewhere, always someone being shot. Our team of fifty attended to emergencies all the time. I saw many die, also friends of mine,” he says.

“We were threatened because we worked for Red Crescent and helped people from all sides of the conflict. We had no option but to flee.”

The world walked away

The young first aider intends to continue studying electrical engineering and to support his family, including his twin brother. But as he awaits the outcome of an asylum claim, along with thousands of others, in appalling conditions. Amer says he feels let down by the international community.

“What I see is a whole world that didnt try to truly help Syria,” he says.

Amer is among 11,000 people stranded in Idomeni. The majority are from Syria and Iraq and 40 per cent are children. For this group, the future is far from certain and they are spending their sixth week outdoors and in limbo.