We had no other choice but to flee Iraq

Publié: 8 septembre 2015 22:10 CET

By John Engedal Nissen, IFRC

Unlike the majority of migrants who make the daily crossing from Greece into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Abed family did not have to wait to enter. Hadil, 21, who is four months pregnant, was having pain to the point where she could not walk anymore. A Red Cross doctor and paramedic quickly gathered the family of four into a vehicle and drove to the nearest hospital where treatment and medication were provided.

Hadil, her husband Haidar, and two young children had come from Iraq, where, they say, they were living a comfortable life. But recently, there were problems and the family felt they had to leave. Concerned for the safety of relatives still living in Iraq, Haidar will not elaborate on the reasons why they had to leave, only admitting it was very dangerous.

“I did not have any other option than to flee Iraq. I would have preferred not to have come. Iraq is my home country, where my language is spoken. It has been my whole life so far,” says Haidar Abed.

The journey has not been easy. The family endured a perilous trip from Izmir, in Turkey, towards the Greek Islands in an overcrowded boat carrying more than double the number of people it was designed for. Until they reached the Red Cross, they felt they were treated like animals and shown no respect.

“I’ve never felt so lonely in my entire life,” says Abed.

After receiving support from the Red Cross, and with Hadil feeling stronger, the family is now ready to continue their journey in search of refuge. Haidar has not had time to think about their preferred destination in Europe. He just hopes for the best and a better life.

“I am so grateful. We feel understood and accepted here, and we have received both water and food,” says Haidar Abed with a smile while his wife is teasing him for his rudimentary English.

The Red Cross of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been responding to the migrant crisis throughout the country since June 2015, 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.