Category: Refugee services

Poverty and fear: The truth about refugee destitution


Mike Adamson, British Red Cross managing director of operations, uncovers the very distressing situation facing many seeking sanctuary in the UK.


Every year, the British Red Cross helps thousands of refugees and asylum seekers left destitute  because they are banned from paid work and have no access to benefits or state support.

Our help for these incredibly vulnerable people includes food parcels, toiletries, hot showers and a chance to be somewhere safe and warm for a few hours. Those we support include children and pregnant women. Some have been destitute for years.

But what is life really like for destitute refugees?  More

Green-fingered Sanja sets down roots


Sanja-hugsThe Red Cross helped Sanja Ratkusic flee the Bosnian conflict almost 20 years ago – and now she works on a horticultural project that helps refugess.

Sanja, from Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, led a typical teenage life in the early Nineties until the fighting started.

She recalled: “One day, I just woke up and there was a war. We lived right on the frontline and it was so hard to see everything around me being destroyed.”

When her father was shot and severely injured, the Red Cross and the UNHCR stepped in and flew the terrified family to Newcastle airport.


Remember the disappeared


As thousands of people remember missing loved ones on International Day of the Disappeared (30 August), we’re highlighting their plight.

For some people, family occasions are always tinged with a sense of sadness.

Every year, hundreds of people across the world go missing due to conflict situations or disasters. And for those relatives left behind, not knowing the fate of their loved ones becomes an ever-present anguish.


Family fortunes rely on an impossible form

A Syrian refugee with her baby

Malla, Ibrahim (BRC)

Imagine this. You live in the UK but your family are stuck on the other side of the world. Your children are growing up fast and soon they won’t remember you. But all is not lost – you could still be reunited. To be in with a chance, all you have to do is fill in a form.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The trouble is the form is long, complicated and doesn’t make sense. Suddenly, the odds of seeing your family again feel very small indeed. More

International volunteer: helping people in Syria and the UK

Majd Kilani

©Majd Kilani

This is guest blog from Majd Kilani, 27, a former Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer who now lives in the UK and volunteers for the British Red Cross’ refugee project in Hammersmith.

I remember Hakam Sibai, one of the first Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers who was killed – he was only 22 years old and a first aider. The ambulance he was out in was struck by 31 bullets .

Just under a month later, the ambulance was being used again to take a pregnant woman and her husband to hospital. The husband asked: “Why are there holes in the ambulance?” When the husband heard the story, he named his son ‘Hakam’ after the volunteer who had been shot. More

Molly’s story: ‘Refugee centre is a sanctuary’


Despite being granted leave to remain, Molly still leads an uncertain and frustrating life.

When I first arrived in the UK, I was afraid to approach the authorities in case I was refused and deported.

I was completely destitute, but one of the worst things was how lonely I was. I was just sitting alone in my house day after day, feeling I was only the person in the world living like this.

Stop-motion video: red balloons and refugees


What’s it like to arrive in a new country as a refugee? What difficulties would you face and how would you overcome them?

This Refugee Week, we’re encouraging people to look beyond the negative stereotypes and celebrate the positive contribution refugees have made to our history and heritage.

Using stop-motion techniques, Red Balloon traces the journey of a new arrival to the UK. It explores the hardships many refugees face and highlights the difference that a little kindness can make. More

‘Now I have a chance to make a career’


After fleeing Liberia and struggling for years, Robert is finally building a new life in the UK. As we celebrate Refugee Week, here is his story.

I had to leave Liberia in 2005 because it wasn’t safe for me, and I sought asylum in the UK. At first my asylum claim was refused, and for a long time I had nothing and really struggled to get by.