Zayneb Omar is a six year old Kurdish girl from Al-Qamishli, Syria. I met her in my early days in Idomeni on the Greek Macedonian border, Europe’s largest informal refugee camp since World War II. When I learnt that her family hadn't left the camp for five months, I decided to take them to visit the coast.

It was the first time they had seen the sea since their perilous journey across the Mediterranean by boat. It was their first time learning to swim.

The Omar family remain stuck in a military camp on the outskirts of Thessaloniki. After eight months in Greece, they are more hopeless and desperate than ever. Zayneb suffers from severe night terrors caused by the psychological stress she has experienced. Sivan, her mother, regularly loses consciousness : the result of stress, I am told.

There are 60,000 refugees stranded in Greece. According to Amnesty International, at the current rate of relocation it would take 18 years for them all to be resettled.


The charity Alice works for is Help Refugees, a grassroots organisation set up in September 2015. Within one month it was the largest distributor of aid to the Calais camp. In just one year, Help Refugees has raised £2.7 million, and is the largest distributor of emergency aid of any grassroots organisation in Europe funding 65 projects around Europe, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey including 22 military camps in Greece.


To enquire about volunteering with Help Refugees, please fill out the form below.

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