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Ā mātau mahi
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Toa Rīpeka Whero
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“We were stunned into silence when this latest group of people turned up the other night,” she says of the 47 young men from Afghanistan and Pakistan who checked into the Kormend camp recently.
The group was exhausted and hungry after several days on the road. The men had navigated border crossings, been arrested and detained and were eventually transferred by bus to the open reception centre where a Hungarian Red Cross team was waiting for them.
As the men shuffled through the centre to take cups of hot tea, food and toiletries provided by Eva and four other volunteers, the centre’s existing 150 residents lined up to welcome the new arrivals.
Some took out mobile phones and played Afghan and Pakistani music in a bid to make the new arrivals feel at home. They also took charge of the sleeping arrangements, ensuring newcomers could bed down in the most comfortable bunks inside the cluster of army tents.
“These people need help and I am here to help them if I can,” says Eva. “They are human beings and really nothing else needs to be taken into account when it comes to helping people in need.”
The Red Cross is currently providing clothes, first aid, psychosocial support and food to people in Kormend, which has a capacity of 250.
In 2015, Hungary became one of the main transit points for people seeking refuge, as they travelled across Europe. After sealing its borders with Serbia and Croatia last autumn, the number of people crossing the border had dropped drastically. But numbers have risen in recent months to a daily average of 174 between March and May, with the majority of people placed in either detention or open reception centres, like Kormend.
The Hungarian Red Cross has scaled up its operation in Vamosszabadi - the country’s biggest reception centre. Staff and volunteers provide water, hygiene kits, first aid, psychosocial support and information, as well as a Restoring Family Links service which reconnects migrants with lost loved ones.
As people seek refuge, whichever part of the world they're from, Red Cross is on the ground. Donate to the Syrian refugee crisis to help families who have no choice but to flee from their homeland in search of safety.