One day in 2012, Muhammad Al Moukdad, 28, witnessed his neighbour in Syria being shot in the head while he was standing by the window. Mohammed called for help, but no one could come. After 16 hours, his neighbour bled to death. Mohammed decided to flee Syria to keep his family safe.
The number of people forced to flee violence and conflict today is the highest since World War II. This year alone, over 590,000 have arrived in Europe. Horrific journeys across the Mediterranean have cost the lives of over 3,000 people.
In September, the British Red Cross launched an emergency appeal for the escalating refugee crisis in Europe, to help the hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of emergency relief.
Red Cross National Societies are on the frontline of this emergency, with volunteers working around the clock to support the refugees as they attempt to reach safety.
“My neighbour was shot in the head”
The killing Mohammed witnessed was an everyday occurrence.
He sought refuge in Jordan with his family soon after, but he wasn’t allowed to work and it was too expensive to live there, so they moved back to Syria. Mohammad and his family then crossed the Aegean Sea in an inflatable boat – a trip he describes as living through death.
Now in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he hopes to go to Germany, where he has relatives. He has a long journey ahead.
Former refugee feels inspired to help
Milica Duka (pictured here) was four years old when she and her family fled from Mostar to Serbia during the Balkan War. Now she volunteers with the Red Cross of Serbia, supporting people going through what she once did – at the very train station in Belgrade where she arrived with her family.
“I know why these people are fleeing,” says Milica. “They want a safe place to stay. When we fled our country, I was terrified. I remember people crying and the awful sound of war, even though my mom tried to cover our ears.”
Her story is not unusual. Many volunteers in Serbia were once refugees themselves.
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