BRADFORD CHARITY SEES DETERIORATING CONDITIONS FOR REFUGEES IN EUROPE
A team of aid workers have heard shocking accounts from refugees after travelling out to Europe to help those who have fled for their lives from war-torn countries.
Representatives from the Bradford-based international aid organisation, the Human Relief Foundation (HRF) travelled out on 15 January.
They journeyed to Bulgaria and Serbia to conduct assessments, and discovered that refugees were walking around 45km through forests and mountains just to make it to the refugee camp.
With the heavy snow and freezing temperatures, refugees were finding it even harder to survive. Many women and children were also in these groups.
Adam Kelwick, Project Coordination Manager at HRF, explained: “We have been conducting emergency assessments around the Balkans and on two Greek islands where conditions are deteriorating rapidly for those fleeing war and oppression in their homelands. At a time when public opinion is not as favourable towards the plight of these people as it was a few months ago, we have to be here more than ever to help provide the basic humanitarian necessities to the vulnerable, families and children.”
In Serbia, the team worked with local humanitarian groups.
One aid worker living in Serbia said he saw refugees walking in front of his building in the freezing cold. So responding, he guided them to the refugee camp, providing them with winter essentials.
He also claimed some taxi drivers in the area were taking advantage of refugees by making them pay unfair fees. He said with nowhere to go, and walking in the freezing cold with families, people had no choice but to pay.
The HRF team also visited the islands of Kos and Leros in Greece, with Kos being the same area the family of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi tried to reach.
Aylan drowned in the Mediterranean Sea last year and his body was photographed washed up on a beach. It made headlines across the world.
Refugees spoke to the team about the perilous journey they faced across the sea from Turkey, on worn-down flooding boats.
One refugee told the team: “We bought our own boat with the last bit of money we had. The waves were so bad and there were 20 people crammed in our boat. It was flooding but we made it across in time. We were so lucky to be alive.”
HRF has been carrying out assessments and has been working in Europe following the refugee crisis, also having appeared on a BBC documentary.
The charity has launched an appeal to raise funds to alleviate the suffering of refugees. Funds can help HRF provide essentials such as gloves and shoes to the most vulnerable.
Note to editors
Human Relief Foundation (HRF) is based in Bradford and is a registered International Non-Governmental Organisation.
Launched in 1991, it seeks to promote sustainable economic and social development, supporting local communities to build a better life and find their own solutions to global problems.
It is registered with the UK Charity Commission (1126281 & SC038671).