Matthew Carter

Writer working with the British Red Cross on issues to do with refugees, asylum and international family tracing.

Posts by Matthew Carter:

Good News from the deck of our rescue boat

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Good News in her mothers arms

© Mathieu Wilcocks/MOAS

More than 100 people were reported to have drowned in the southern Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday.

The Red Cross believes that no one should be left to drown at sea. Our rescue boats continue to patrol these perilous waters and rescued 113 people the very same day.

So far this year, our boats have saved around 7,000 lives. Among them is a young child called Good News, who was rescued in August. This is her story.

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Exodus – enter the world of young refugee artists

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young refugee tracing a boat against a window

For so many people, art is a means of expressing how we feel about the world. In this respect, the young refugees adjusting to life in Kent are no different to the rest of us.

Selassie and Helen are two young refugees from Eritrea. They arrived in the UK alone, travelling from the Calais ‘Jungle’. Both are seeking asylum after traumatic experiences.

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From the deck of our rescue boat – a young man from Gambia

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boy on the deck on the Responder

“I lost my mother in 2009 when I was 10,” says a young man from Gambia, “then my father in 2014.”

“I have five younger brothers and sisters so I have to take care of them.

“I wanted to work the land but after my father died, other family members took our farm. I left school and worked as a goat herd. But it’s hard.

“When my uncle offered to pay for me to go to Europe, I thought it’s a good idea. But first I had to go from my home in Gambia to Libya.

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From the deck of our rescue boat – naming a baby

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Jamal Agboola-Muideen

“My youngest baby is three months old. I’ve never seen him. But I gave him my name because maybe I won’t survive,” says Jamal Agboola-Muideen, 39.

“Going from Nigeria to Europe isn’t easy, through the land and through the sea. We lost a lot of people from the boat. I could have been among them.”

Jamal Agboola-Muideen is the breadwinner for his extended family and says he was forced to flee after his parents died when he received death threats from relatives wanting their land.

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From Calais to the UK – a view from the window

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Grande-Synthe-Aram.2

As the light again began to stream through the windows of the bus, one word above the rest was audible from the boys who sat quietly in nervous anticipation: “England?”

14 boys, mostly Afghans and Syrians, had arrived.

They are the first of the unaccompanied children living in Calais the Home Office has agreed to transfer to the UK.

The next week should see many more bus journeys like this one: many more packets of crisps and cheese sandwiches consumed; more vulnerable children glimpsing the British Isles for the first time.

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From the deck of our rescue boat: a panic attack

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man suffers panic attack on board the Responder

As the Responder search and rescue ship docks in Augusta, Sicily, a young man collapses, shaking.

Brunella Pirozzi, the doctor in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies team checks him. It’s a panic attack. The team leads him to a seat and stays with him until he calms down a little. Bit by bit, the 22-year-old unclenches his fists and begins counting on his fingers.

“My two brothers. My mother. Killed in front of my eyes. Then they came for my sister.”

He pulls the neck of his shirt down to show a red scar.

“They stabbed me when I tried to stop them from taking her. I played dead so they didn’t kill me too.”

After fleeing for his life, the young man pays traffickers in Libya for a place on a boat to Europe. Just outside Libyan coastal waters, his boat is intercepted by the joint Red Cross and MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) operation.

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Humanity at a crossroads: three journeys to Europe

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montage of migrants holding maps

An exhausted 14-year-old boy waits for help in a dusty refugee reception area. He has open sores on his arms where he has been deliberately burnt with cigarettes.

An 11-year-old girl has left school, too depressed and withdrawn to continue after being raped three times in a matter of months.

A woman of 23 cradles her eight-month-old baby in a reception centre in Italy. She is waiting to hear whether the culmination of a seven-year journey during which she was raped, stabbed and imprisoned five times, will be a return to a country where she has no family, no money and no prospects.

These are just a few of the people travelling today across the central Mediterranean. Many will have left their homes months or even years ago.

They are moving for diverse reasons: some are fleeing conflict and persecution, others move because of poverty, loss of livelihood or lack of opportunity.

All of them have a story to tell.

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Why we’re rescuing refugees between Libya and Europe

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rescue boat

Yesterday a staggering 6,500 people were rescued in the southern Mediterranean. They may have been fleeing from conflict, persecution, conscription or extreme poverty. No one risks taking this perilously dangerous and frightening journey unless they are fleeing from something even worse.

The boats these people were travelling on were in a variety of states of disrepair – from old wooden fishing vessels to inflatable dinghies. The vast majority were dangerously overcrowded and filled with women and children.

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