Stories from the refugees on Europe’s doorstep

Refugees give their details to Red Cross family tracing teams as they arrive in SicilyThe weather is turning but for refugees, there is no going back. Many people feel they have no choice but to brave the cold and make the treacherous journey to Europe. 

Most of the world’s refugees aren’t in Europe, but those that do head here face long and difficult journeys.

They often travel across multiple countries to get to their destination – places where they already have family or their job skills are needed.

Red Cross volunteers are supporting people in all of the countries they pass through. We’re often the first ones to offer some comfort and help. We’re there in that extraordinary moment as you cross the border: one of fear and elation, exhaustion and hope.

Here are just some of the stories we’re hearing.


Read the heart-breaking story that inspired this Syrian doctor

A woman looking at the camera

©Thomas Evaldsen

After four years of deadly fighting, Syrian doctor Maissam Hamoui is still treating patients in the city of Aleppo. In that time, she has found hope in even the most shocking situations.

She says: “The worst experience I had was when a little baby girl was wounded in a bomb attack.” Maissam shapes her hands like a small bowl. “She was only a month old and not bigger than this.” More

Watch: The moment a father and son are reunited after fleeing Burundi

TanzaniaThe violence and civil unrest that has blighted Burundi in recent months shows no sign of abating.

The volatile situation has seen more than 190,000 people flee the African nation since April.

Tanzania, Uganda, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have all taken in thousands of refugees.

Among those to reach the safety of Rwanda’s Mahama refugee camp was Fredric Ngango. But he did so without his son, who was too sick to travel.

Watch the moment they were reunited again, thanks to the Red Cross’ family tracing service.


Ukraine: Could you survive in no-man’s-land aged 80?

Two older people pulling a cart

©ICRC/L Lahongre

Conflict has made life hard for everyone in eastern Ukraine, but some suffer more than most.

The Red Cross is bringing vital supplies, but things are grim for older people such as Valentina.

On the International Day of Older Persons, see how she survives medicine shortages, power cuts and constant shelling.

Kominternove is a small village in the war-torn Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. It lies in the no-man’s-land between the military positions of the conflict’s two sides.

To move out of the village, civilians have to go through the checkpoints of one side or the other, which is complicated and dangerous.

People here live with the sound of constant shelling. Many houses have been destroyed or damaged, the electricity has been cut off for months, and the health centre is closed. Bringing in food or medical supplies has become a major challenge. People are hauling water from wells as the pipes run dry. More

Shoreham air disaster seen through the eyes of our volunteers


The British Red Cross is a familiar sight at the scene of emergencies and major incidents in the UK, and in the case of the Shoreham Airshow disaster we were there right from the start.

One month after the worst UK airshow accident in 63 years, the Red Cross is continuing to support those affected through its dedicated support line.

Immediate reaction

When the accident took place on the first day of the Shoreham Airshow in August, volunteers and staff from our Kent and Sussex teams were already there providing first aid cover for the event.

So as the incident unfolded, 10 event first aiders, four ambulances and two specially designed first aid vehicles were ready to respond.


Humans of Syria

The refugee crisis isn’t about statistics, speeches or politicians – it’s about real people fleeing violence and poverty.

Meet six Syrians on the road in Europe. Hear what they’ve survived, and their hopes for the future.

A smiling girl

©John Engedal Nissen / IFRC

Four year old Laila is fleeing with her father and mother, who is four months pregnant.

In Macedonia the family has been given food by Red Cross, including canned sardines – Laila’s favourite. The Red Cross is also giving people here water, toiletries and medical care. More

Ebola crisis: Exhausted but not defeated



“Ebola was an unknown disease for Sierra Leoneans. When it came to our country, people didn’t believe it was Ebola.”

Abu Bakarr Tarawallie cuts the look of a weary man. It would be an understatement to say that the last 18 months have been challenging for him and his Sierra Leone Red Cross colleagues.

They know they are close to ridding their country of Ebola. But equally, they know that the disease has halted the green shoots of development in post-war Sierra Leone.

“We had so many goals for our country, some of which were very ambitious,” he says.


Top actors swap Macbeth for Madonna, and help refugees

KarengillanpicThis week classically trained actors have been giving cheesey pop songs the Shakespeare treatment – the results are jaw-droppingly silly.

And now these bonkers videos are raising vital money for refugees.

It all started with actor David Fynn – who’s appeared in Game of Thrones and Sherlock, as well as American TV show Undateable.

Using the hashtag #15secondshakespeare, he challenged people to record short videos of themselves reading lines from pop songs as if they were performing the Bard’s plays.