Story by Dimitrina Popova, Bulgarian Red Cross, Head of Unit PR, Media and Publishing Activities; editor Peter Yovkov
For one month Hivro and his wife, Asra*, refugees from Syria have lived separately in different accommodation centers in Bulgaria, without knowing each other’s fate.
Hivro left Syria together with his pregnant wife, her mother and sister and his 2-year-old daughter. During the journey, the family was separated in Turkey and Hivro was left behind. He managed to cross the Bulgarian border only a week after the other members of the family had already found refuge in Bulgaria.
When Asra and her family crossed the border, they were taken to a transit center in the town Elhovo for registration. Asra’s birth pains started and the young woman was sent immediately to the hospital in the nearest town of Yambol, where she delivered a beautiful and healthy boy. Yet she could not feel happy as she had no news from her husband.
Meanwhile Asra’s mother, her sister and little daughter were settled in the accommodation center of the State Agency for Refugees in Kovachevtzi, dedicated for large families with children. A week later Asra joined them with her new-born baby.
At the same time Hivro was crossing the Turkish – Bulgarian border, but because he was by himself, he was placed in another accommodation center in the city of Harmanli, more than 300 km away from his wife.
During one of the regular visits to the accommodation center in Kovachevtzi, the Bulgarian Red Cross team was approached by Asra asking about the fate of her husband. The case was registered by Svetloslav Roussev, Chief Expert for International Cooperation and Tracing at the Bulgarian Red Cross and the search was initiated with the state institutions in charge of refugees.
The search took about a month. Luckily the name of Hivro was identified in the beneficiaries list of the local Bulgarian Red Cross branch in Haskovo after distribution of relief to the refugees accommodated in Harmanli. The Bulgarian Red Cross contacted the authorities with the request for family reunification and after one month of separation, Hivro was transferred to Kovachevtzi. At last the family was together again. Only then Hivro learned that he had a son.
Hivro and his wife are very thankful for the involvement of the Red Cross. They come from a little village near Kamishli in Syria and their goal now is to continue their journey to refuge in Europe. Hivro has a brother-in-law who lives in Sweden. This is where they want to settle to search for a better future, away from the horrors of the war in Syria.
In Bulgaria, an influx in the number of refugees entering the country since September 2013 has resulted in a crisis situation. Since then, the Bulgarian Red Cross has been doing its best to support the asylum seekers who have found refuge in Bulgaria. The Red Cross provides humanitarian relief for refugees including food and psycho-social support for refugee children and youth. As of early March 2014, over 10,000 refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War are residing in Bulgaria. In the first few months of the crisis, the Bulgarian Red Cross reconnected four families separated while entering the Republic of Bulgaria.
*Pseudonyms are used for privacy protection.
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