You might remember Leen.
Last November we met her at her lowest point. At just 16 years old, she had fled her home in Damascus with her younger sister and mother.
Leen was exhausted and shaken from her journey but relieved to have reached temporary safety at a refugee camp on the border of Macedonia and Greece.
Months later, Leen got back in touch with us via Facebook to say she had finally arrived in Germany. We recently travelled to Berlin to find out how she is settling into her new life.
“I am happy because I’ve missed my father so much. But I’m also sad because I am so far away from my country,” said Leen.
“I wish I could have stayed in Syria. It is my country and it’s very beautiful. But the situation is terrible. I can’t go to school or do anything there anymore.
“That’s why I am here in Germany. I hope to be able to study here and have a future.”
World Refugee Day
We’ve chosen to share Leen’s story today because it is World Refugee Day. All week you can join us for more stories celebrating the contribution refugees make to our society.
In its annual report marking World Refugee Day, the UN said it was the first time ever that the number of displaced people worldwide passed 60 million. This represents one in every 113 people on the planet.
Alex Fraser, director of refugee support, said: “Leen and her family had to endure a horrific journey fleeing the danger in their hometown in Syria.
“It’s wonderful to see her settling into her new life in Germany, but unfortunately for thousands of others their story does not end quite so happily.
“Widening the family reunion criteria would be one of the most safe, secure and cost effective ways for the UK Government to do more to help refugees and would help avoid further life-threatening journeys for thousands across Europe.”
- The Red Cross is one of the only organisations working with refugees in every country between the UK and Syria.
- The British Red Cross is the largest provider of support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.
- Family reunion work has been a key activity of the British Red Cross since 1992. So far in 2016 the British Red Cross has reunited 606 family members through our travel assistance programme.
- In the time since Leen travelled through Greece, conditions for migrants there have profoundly changed. Migrants who arrived ‘irregularly’ after 20 March 2016 to Greek islands are now held in a situation of detention, with their freedom of movement curtailed. The Red Cross believes the current conditions for migrants in Greece pose grave risks to their health and well-being, including their mental health.