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Refugee crisis

Stranded lives

In this Medium series, Lucy Carrigan and Kathleen Prior from the International Rescue Committee document the plight of refugees trapped by border closings along the Balkan route.

Here are stories of some of the forgotten souls stranded in Greece. Many have since been moved from Idomeni in the north to official refugee transit sites established by the local government. The International Rescue Committee is working closely with the Greek authorities to help improve living conditions in the transit sites and ensure refugees recieve the critical aid they need.

“The baby is crying so much,” he says. “She needs her mother. It’s been so difficult.”

Photo: Jodi Hilton/IRC

Moayad and his six-month-old daughter, Zehraa, are trying to join the rest of their family in Sweden. They were separated in Turkey when, climbing into the rubber dinghies to journey to Greece, people began to fight and throw luggage. So many people were crowding onto the small boats that Moayad feared for the safety of his youngest child. His wife and four other children were able to board one that reached Greece. While the rest of his family continued to Sweden, Moayad had to wait for the next boat which was delayed.

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“Look at our life. What is our destiny? Can we die without humiliation? With dignity? Dogs live better than we live now. This isn’t a life for a human.”

Photo: Kathleen Prior/IRC

A Syrian mother and father struggle to care for their newborn while trapped in Greece.  Like many of their neighbours in the surrounding tents, Wedjan, Isak, and their two other children have escaped Syria’s brutal civil war only to find a life in limbo. They spend their days in the squalor of the camp, sitting around the fire where they cook food for meals and warm water for washing. They have been living here for over a month, along with Wedjan’s brother and his family.

“Look at our life. What is our destiny? Can we die without humiliation? With dignity? Dogs live better than we live now. This isn’t a life for a human.”

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Five Syrian refugees -- a teacher, police officer, hairdresser, mechanic and lawyer -- reminisce about the productive lives they once led as they wait to be relocated into Europe. Nahala has been a teacher for 27 years. She taught six year olds in Dara’a, writing her own lesson plans every day. She liked the idea that she was shaping the lives of productive citizens.

Photo: Kathleen Prior/IRC

Five Syrian refugees - a teacher, police officer, hairdresser, mechanic and lawyer - reminisce about the productive lives they once led as they wait to be relocated into Europe. Nahala has been a teacher for 27 years. She taught six year olds in Dara’a, writing her own lesson plans every day. She liked the idea that she was shaping the lives of productive citizens.

“I thought I could help to build a generation of thinkers, of doers, that could save Syria.”

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The IRC's work in Greece