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Refugee Crisis: From volunteer to refugee, 'Now look where I am'.

Raamy Jaafar was a Red Crescent volunteer in Syria. Now, with his house and neighbourhood destroyed by bombs, he finds himself in the same perilous situation of the many people he has helped.

Thursday September 10, 2015

A group of migrants walk on the last leg of their crossing from Greece to FYR Macedonia. Photo: Stephen Ryan / IFRC

Inside the police registration centre at Kos there are about 200 people. They have been there for hours. Many have spent days or weeks waiting for this moment: when they will be given papers opening the doors to continental Greece. They sit on the ground; mostly men, but also family groups with small children or babies.

A young Syrian man sees volunteers from the Hellenic Red Cross, and goes over to explain that he also part of the Red Cross and Red Crescent humanitarian movement as a volunteer with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent since 2010. "And now look how and where I am", he says.

Raamy Jaafar, 24, comes from a rural area near Damascus. Raamy carries many memories on his mobile phone; photographs related to his work as a volunteer with the Red Crescent. In Syria, even during the conflict he was an ambulance driver and a first aid volunteer, but also provided psychosocial support to people who had lost family or friends in the violence.

Now his house and neighbourhood have been completely destroyed by bombs. He has been on the Greek island of Kos, in a room shared with other Syrians, for 15 days after arriving in a dinghy from the Turkish shore. In addition to volunteering, he was studying archeology when the war started and his university closed.

"Now I'm in Kos. At least I'm happy because there are here plenty of Hellenistic and Medieval Archaeological sites I can visit," he says. But the talk stirs a painful memory. "We were planning to visit the ruins of Palmyra with our teachers at the university," he says. "Now I feel ashamed about its barbarous destruction."

"The actual situation is really hard for me; I'm always crying because I left my family behind, and I really want to bring them with me." With his registration papers from the Greek government, Raamy says he might make his way to the Netherlands, where he plans to resume his civic duties. "I would like to become a volunteer for the Red Cross again in my new home."

Syria Crisis Appeal: Donate now

Four years on, and the conflict in Syria shows no signs of ending. More than 12 million Syrians remain inside Syria and need help urgently. Another four million are struggling to survive in neighbouring countries. You can help.

Donate now and help us provide support to those in need in practical, life-saving ways.

How Red Cross is helping refugees in Europe

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is on the ground, including in Greece, Macedonia, Italy, Serbia and Hungary, providing refugees with food, water, hygiene kits and other essential goods. Volunteers and staff are also providing emergency health assistance, re-connecting family members and providing psychosocial support.

More information about how the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is helping the refugee crisis in Europe can be found at

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