Category: Refugee services

Why do we help refugees and migrants?

Syrian refugees Rania and Judy © Thomas Andre Syvertsen/Norwegian Red Cross

Syrian refugees Rania and Judy © Thomas Andre Syvertsen/Norwegian Red Cross

With so many problems in the world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We all want to help other people, but none of us can fix everything for everyone.

At the Red Cross we face this challenge – where to put our money and effort – every day.

But we have something that makes the decision much easier. Our seven Fundamental Principles.

These bold, brilliant ideas are 50 years old next month. But they still guide our work around the world, letting us do things no other organisation can. More

What you need to know about the refugee crisis – in just four graphs

Syrian family, after arriving in Macedonia. © Stephen Ryan and IFRC

Syrian family in Macedonia, August 2015. © Stephen Ryan and IFRC

Millions of people are running for their lives from war and oppression. For some, a long journey to safety will take them to Europe. Find out more about the refugees who make it here, with a few helpful graphs and charts.   

There are now 19.5 million people refugees in the world – and more than half are children. That’s the largest movement of people since the Second World War.

Their journeys to safety are not only difficult. They are deadly. And a minority will end up in Europe, tired and desperate to rebuild their lives.

So what are the facts we need to know about the refugees on our doorstep?

Donate to the Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal More

Helping refugees in Europe: your questions answered

Red Cross volunteer distributes relief items to migrants


Find out how you can help desperate refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants who have been forced to flee their homes.

What is the British Red Cross doing?

The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for refugees across Europe.

We’re supporting our partner Red Cross national societies in Italy and Greece. Volunteers and staff there are helping refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants arriving on their shores. More

These women can bust the refugee and migrant myths in just two minutes


Yesterday we launched a Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal. Not sure whether to give? Let Sabah, Nejmeh and Ameena reveal what life is really like for refugees fleeing Syria.

A woman washing dishes

Sabah ©Wassem Al Bakri/Iraqi Red Crescent

Myth one: “Refugees and migrants all come to Europe”

The truth:

Sabah, 53, travelled across Syria for five days to get to conflict-hit Iraq – a country which is poorer than most in Europe, but hosts far more refugees. More

Long-lost family helped me move on after losing my parents


Chris Gray

After her parents died, Chris Gray felt the time was right to look for some long-lost relatives in Myanmar. She didn’t know that finding them would help her to move on with her life.

Chris, 62, is talking about how her mother ended up in the UK – and it’s an incredible story.

Born in Burma (now Myanmar) of Karen ethnicity, Dorothy Dawson was the daughter of a colonial customs officer.

During the Second World War, still only a teenager, Dorothy was separated from her family.

She joined thousands of other refugees as they made a 310-mile trek – on foot – through the jungle to India, fleeing Japanese invaders. Thousands perished on the way, but Dorothy made it to safety.

After the war, Dorothy returned to Burma and was reunited with her brother, Peter, and their mother.

Soon afterwards, Dorothy met John Gray: a British army officer who had stayed in the country after the war. Within a few months, the pair were married.

On 4 January 1948, the day Burma celebrated independence, the couple returned to England to start their new life together.

But just a few years later, life in her home country would take a turn for the worse. More

Finding the family you never even knew you had

© Sam Whitwham/British Red Cross

© Sam Whitwham/British Red Cross

Susan knew very little about her dad, who disappeared at the end of the Second World War. When she started to look for him, over 50 years later, she found more than she could have ever imagined.

When Susan was a little girl, her favourite possession was a small sepia photograph of her father. The last time she’d seen him, she was just five months old.

Susan treasured this photo and the few facts she knew – but, as she got older, it wasn’t enough.

In the years that followed, terrible and traumatic life events would push Susan to look for the dad she’d never known.

She had no idea that the search would end up with her finding a whole new family. More

End of the road: what life is like after Calais

Refugee on road

© Simon Rawles and British Red Cross

The migrant camps in Calais are all over the news. But what happens to the people who make it to the UK after that dangerous trip – strapped to a speeding train or stuck in the rumbling dark of a lorry?

Rhys Cutler works in our refugee service in Kent – and has heard some stories and facts he won’t forget. 

Recently, the British Red Cross helped a number of migrants in Folkestone. They’d all arrived through the Channel Tunnel.

These were young men: Eritreans, Syrians, Afghans. Most were from global conflict zones. Many were injured.

That was to be expected after living in inhumane conditions for several months, before scaling barbed wire fences and jumping on to trains travelling at 40mph. They needed first aid for medical issues such as sprained joints and infected wounds.

Many had also suffered significant emotional trauma. It was humbling to see how gratefully they received even basic items, such as blankets.

But every night, hundreds more will attempt the same journey. More