Syrian migrant family: We couldn’t find enough help in neighbouring countries

Publié: 10 septembre 2015 22:02 CET

By John Engedal Nissen, IFRC

Hundreds of migrants sit at the southern border of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, waiting for transport going north to the Serbian border. This is a regular route for thousands of people hoping to find refuge in a member state of the European Union.

Louiy Saloum, a 37-year-old father of three, is among the group, sitting in the shade while his youngest daughter, Fatima, gets a bath. This Syrian family has been in search of safety for many years. When the conflict in their homeland first began, Saloum gathered up his loved ones and joined more than one million other Syrians in their flight to safety in neighbouring Lebanon. But, he says, support for the refugees was inadequate.

“We received $US 15 for food for a whole month. We are five persons, and it was not enough, neither for food nor water,” says Saloum, adding that they were often discriminated against because of their different nationality and religious beliefs.

“There is no future in Lebanon for me or my children,” he says. “Everything was very expensive, and I could only get short term jobs from time to time. Even so, I wasn’t always paid for the work I did”.

Eight days ago the family decided to move again, travelling from Turkey to Greece on their way further into Europe. It was a nerve-wracking journey, one Saloum was not sure they would survive. The family climbed into a small inflatable boat, together with 60 other migrants. The men sat on the outside, while women and children sat on the inside. For two and a half hours they crossed the Aegean Sea, watching helplessly as wave after wave splashed into the overcrowded boat, filling it with water.

“We did not know what would happen to us or if we would reach our destination. I was so worried for my children and my wife. ‘Oh, what have I done,’ I thought to myself.”

They managed to make it to shore, where they were greeted by Red Cross volunteers who provided them with water, food, and hygiene supplies. Saloum is optimistic, but fears they will still be rejected when they reach their destination.

“I fear they will send us back to Syria where there are terrorists and war. And even if the war ends, there will still be terrorists.”

The Red Cross of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been responding to the migrant crisis throughout the country since June, deploying 125 volunteers and 16 staff to support migrant needs.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 193,218 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to help meet the emergency needs and reduce the vulnerabilities of 10,000 people.