Category: Refugee services

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

Susan looks at old family photographs in her home

© 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

‘The Swarm’ from Calais: a horror movie not showing near you


Kent roads in gridlock. Families missing their big summer holiday. There was even talk of sending in the army to defend our borders from ‘invading migrants’. So how did we get here – and what’s going on?

The media make it sound like a scene from a horror movie. The nameless Calais migrants storm into the tunnel under cover of night, wielding chainsaws, metal and sticks.

This “threat” to the nation seems clear in the papers. (One even put migrants and Hitler in the same headline.) Send in armies, Gurkhas, even Jason Stratham, if necessary – whatever it takes to defend our land.

But do you have five minutes to read this, before you barricade the doors?

It’s time to get the story straight.



The moment a mother reunites with her children – after four years apart


Family reunion Marie manchester

Marie had to flee the Ivory Coast suddenly, when her father was killed and her house destroyed. She’s been waiting to see her children ever since, with her life on pause – until today.

Marie is standing in the middle of Manchester airport. It’s the usual whirlwind of tourists, trolleys and tannoy announcements.

She waits by the arrival gate, gripping a small suitcase and a ‘Welcome home’ balloon – a nervous smile on her face. She is finally going to see her children after four long years.

The last time she was anywhere near them, she had just dodged a bullet. More

What hope in the refugee camp the size of Cambridge?


Mathias and his family fled violence in Burundi

“I was born in a refugee camp here in Tanzania in 1984. This is already my third time fleeing my home country,” Ndayisimiye Mathias says wearily.

He is one of thousands of Burundians waiting to be assigned their own tent at the Nyarugusu refugee camp.


Listen: what if it were your son crossing the Mediterranean?


A couple of Gulawi’s friends took their own lives, after claiming asylum in the UK. He says it was down to their treatment.

Gulawi now has strong feelings on how to make the world a better place – starting with kindness, compassion, and really knowing all the refugee facts.

Here are his thoughts.