Abdul, 21 years old, comes from Aleppo, Syria. A couple of weeks ago he fled his country, travelled from Turkey through the Balkans and finally arrived in Germany where he received care and support from Malteser Hilfsdienst, the German relief service of the Order of Malta. His trip lasted more than a month. Here is his story:
Journey of Abdul: from Syria to Germany
Step 1 in Bodrum (Turkey): paying $1,000 to travel on a small fishing boat with 15 other people (normally maximum 4 people can fit inside).
Step 2 in Greece: arriving on one of the Greek islands where he stays for 4 days. On the 5th day, he leaves for Athens where he stays one month.
Step 3 in Macedonia: walking from Greece to Macedonia, Abdul drives to Northern Macedonia and walks on train tracks and through the forest with 150 other people to reach Serbia.
Step 4 in Serbia: from a small village he makes his way to Belgrade where he stays 3 days before leaving for Hungary.
Step 5 in Hungary: where he drives in a van with 30 other people directly to Vienna (Austria).
Last step in Wesseling (Germany): from Austria, he takes the train to Düsseldorf (Germany) and finally arrives in a refugee camp in Wesseling, where he receives care from the German Association of the Order of Malta. Now he is trying to obtain the papers to be able to go and live with his brother in Dortmund.
Abdul hopes to get his parents to Germany. For the moment, they are still stuck in Turkey, and because of their old age, they cannot make the long journey.
More than four years on from the beginning of the Syrian civil war, millions of people have been forced to flee their homes – leading to the world’s largest refugee crisis. Since August 2014, the ISIS advance in Iraq brought regions containing a variety of ethnic and religious minorities under the control of the terror group. According to UN estimates in August 2015, 3.2 million people have been displaced internally in Iraq during the one and a half years since the rise of ISIS. Currently, 20.4 million Iraqi and Syrian refugees and displaced people are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
Last year, more than 114,000 refugees and displaced persons in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, received essential aid such as food, drinking water, household and hygiene articles, as well as emergency shelters from Malteser International and the Lebanese Association of the Order of Malta. 38,000 sick or injured refugees, displaced people and local residents were provided with medical support in Malteser International’s field hospitals, medical centers and mobile clinics.
In Hungary, Austria and Germany, the relief services of the Order of Malta are providing first aid in the central stations for those who are on their way from Syria and Iraq to Europe.
Doctors and nurses are accompanied by translators and provide medical support for the injured and sick people, mostly suffering from fever, diarrhea or infections. Those who cannot be treated on site are transported by ambulance to the nearest hospitals. The Order of Malta is distributing among others items warm clothing and blankets, special food for babies and diapers as well as medicines for those who suffer from chronic diseases.
In 2014, approximately 207,000 refugees and migrants sailed across the Mediterranean to reach Europe. UNHCR estimated that 3,419 of them drowned while making the journey - an average of almost 10 people every day. Most of those who made it to Europe were rescued by the Italian Navy, Coast Guard, the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps (CISOM) or merchant ships.
First aid at sea: a new kind of healthcare
Since 2008, CISOM has been involved in providing medical support for the ‘boat people’ in the Straits of Sicily. The Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps has developed an experienced unit capable of delivering first aid at sea or on board ships waiting for the migrants. Specialist medical and paramedical personnel are on duty 24/7, every day of the year, ready to board vessels at just a few minutes notice and deliver medical help in difficult conditions which are often made even worse by the weather.
The German Association of the Order of Malta is running about 100 reception centres throughout the country. In 2014, more than 50% of the 200,000 asylum seekers in Germany went through the facilities of the Order of Malta where they spent their first ten days to two weeks.
A place to stay and help for people in need
The Order of Malta in Germany has been providing guidance and support with social integration for asylum seekers since 1989. In 2014, 50,000 refugees were given shelter by the Order of Malta in Germany, while around 150 asylum seekers per day received help while they moved into a first house of their own: their first step towards a fully independent and socially integrated life in Germany. They receive help to find jobs, homes and deal with administrative procedures. Migrants without health insurance can receive medical care at some of the Order of Malta’s medical facilities.
Welcoming and helping Iraqi refugees and migrants
Since September 2014, Ordre de Malte France has been supporting Iraqis who have sought refuge in France. Teams from the Order of Malta in France make visits to refugee families to distribute food and hygiene kits. Ordre de Malte France is also helping migrants and defending their rights. Legal advisers provide daily assistance to detained foreigners who are due to be expelled. To facilitate their integration into society and help them to start a new life in France, migrants are given help to find jobs and homes, supplied with French language and culture courses, and given support in judicial and administrative proceedings to help them to gain legal protection as refugees.
For more information about Malteser International please visit: www.malteser-international.org
For more information about the Order of Malta please visit: www.orderofmalta.int