Syrian migrant: No help in Jordan, so now I try in Europe

Publié: 15 septembre 2015 22:21 CET

By John Engedal Nissen, IFRC

Help hasn’t come easily to Mohammad al Moukdad (28), although he often sought it.

One of the times was in Syria in 2012 with the conflict growing ever-closer to home. He lived in a military zone with a checkpoint just beneath his apartment. Everyday, he said, someone was killed in the area.

One day his neighbor was shot in the head while standing near the window. Although Mohammad called for help several times, no one was able to come to the neighbor’s rescue, and after 16 hours he bled to death.

Soon after he sought refuge in Jordan together with his family, just as thousands of other Syrians had done. In the beginning, he received 17 dollars a month as refugee, but later his pay was drastically reduced to five dollars. As a refugee, he would be ‘thrown back’ to Syria if he took on a regular job. He could only work as a volunteer for NGOs, earning a small amount to cover some costs. But even volunteering for all the NGO’s he could, the small amount he made was not enough to pay for living.

“Life is very expensive in Jordan. We couldn’t pay for anything in the house, so my family decided to move back to Syria,” he said.

He tried to write governments around the world to help him, but they all gave the same answer. “They all wrote ‘come here and we will help you’. No one could help me in Jordan. I had to cross the border to get help. So I decided to come here.” ‘Here’ is the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Moukdad, along with many others, has received support from the Red Cross of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, including water, food and medical assistance as he continues his journey across Europe towards a new life in Germany.

Desperate call

To get this far Mohammad crossed the Aegean Sea in an inflatable boat measuring 2x8 meters and filled with 50 people – a trip he describes as living through death. After several hours in the dark of night and with a Greek island in sight they ran out of gas, drifting around on the water, not knowing what to do. The water was too cold for them to swim ashore.

Again Mohammad called for help, calling the Greek police from his mobile phone. He said it felt like he’d made the call 500 times, but after a while a helicopter came, hovering over the boat just to disappear again.

Later a ship approached them, but left again after a distance of 200 meters. Moukdad kept calling until a ship finally brought them to safety.

There remains a long journey ahead, to  Germany, where he has relatives and can finish his study in telecommunications.

There he hopes his call for help will not be ignored.