Hungarian Red Cross volunteer returns from “extraordinary mission”

Publié: 14 mars 2016 12:00 CET

Andreea Anca, IFRC


Dr Agnes Juhasz – general practitioner and Hungarian Red Cross (HRC) volunteer – had spent ten days assisting to the urgent health needs of the migrants in Idomeni. She was the doctor in the first team of the HRC mobile health unit deployed to Greece who returned to Budapest on Sunday, 6 March.  


“This was an extraordinary mission! I cannot say it was easy and I am very, very tired but happy that I went,” said Agnes visibly fatigued but also enlivened by her recent experience.  

Agnes and four other Hungarian Red Cross workers assisted hundreds of migrants stuck in the small northern village in Greece, where thousands more were unable to continue their journey due to the latest border control regulations in countries along the Balkan route.


Forty percent of the 1,000 people assisted by the HRC health team were children and most had respiratory complaints, injuries from long-distance walking and intestinal issues. A four-year old Syrian girl with severe respiratory problems was saved by the intervention of the HRC team when she was unable to breath.


“The needs for anything are so great that administering one medicine or even asking How are you? makes a difference to people,” said Agnes.


The doctor, who has worked in the past in disaster stricken locations in Congo, Kenya, Indonesia and India, said that after working in Idomeni, she felt that helping people in need became even more important to her.

All support needed


As temperatures still drop below zero at night in Idomeni, people who travel with little belongings are now battling the elements, sleeping rough in the open-air or flimsy tents. They need all of the humanitarian assistance they can get, said Agnes based on her first-hand experience.


“There isn`t much food at this point either. When there is food distribution, people grab and hold to their chest the little bread roll they get and the small bottle of water.”


She recalled an episode in Idomeni that made a long-lasting impression on her.


“I remember a young mother who could no longer breastfeed her baby. All the stress from the journey must have stopped her milk. I can`t forget her stunned expression; the tears were just running down her face. “


She also recalled the gratitude of people when receiving the medical assistance: “An old lady hugged and kissed me; others touched my shoulder in gratitude.”


Agnes understood the weariness of the migrants in their prolonged journey: “There are, of course, many impatient people. I would also be impatient if I were stuck with my child at a border and all  my possessions were lost in a fire, or if my husband was killed. Or if I have had little food for the past three weeks and could not wash myself, while my child is also sick.”


“But people are not aggressive just impatient, ” she added, also expressing her eagerness to go back to Greece to help once again.


Note: Agnes`s team in Idomeni was replaced by another six-member team of the Hungarian Red Cross mobile health unit. In the Red Cross and Red Crescent spirit of cross border cooperation, a volunteer doctor from the Austrian Red Cross joined the HRC in its effort to support the Hellenic Red Cross in providing assistance and support to the migrants in most need.