“Testimony gives recognition and dignity to the patient”

Testimony collection is an essential element in the data collection work of the Network members. This is how Network members acquire real world stories, necessary to illustrate the quantitative data that we present, in order to achieve positive social change.

Collecting testimonies from service users and health professionals helps to communicate effectively the reality of the service users we meet. They tell us about their difficulties in accessing healthcare because of administrative, financial, language barriers and so many other social issues.

You will find in this section a series of testimonies collected throughout the Network by volunteers in the field for the Vulnerability Network Observatory report.

Femi, 56, is a musician from West Africa. He sought asylum in Switzerland when he first arrived in 2007 but after a lengthy process he was refused in 2014 and has been living in Switzerland illegally since then. Femi suffers from several mental health issues, including severe depression and sporadic psychotic episodes. He is homeless, and sleeps in churches and cellars, and can only find casual work that is poorly paid. Femi’s living situation exacerbates his mental health issues, as without employment and shelter he cannot access health insurance. This prevents Femi from receiving any psychiatric help, so he regularly attends the Doctors of the World clinic where the nurses do their best to support him and help him purchase medication and find emergency accommodation.

Femi was recently hospitalised after a severe psychotic episode. Doctors of the World are working with the hospital to find a long-term solution for Femi and provide psychiatric follow-up care and improve Femi’s living situation.

Testimony collected by Médecins du Monde Switzerland – 2016

Hakeem and his family fled the Taliban occupied Afghanistan in 2015, three days of extreme violence and terror in Kunduz led to the death of two of Hakeem’s children. Hakeem, his wife and their four children fled to Iran and travelled through Turkey where they were separated. Hakeem’s wife and three of his children made it to Greece while Hakeem remained in Turkey with his disabled son, Tahir.

“We arrived in Lesvos in November 2015. Our condition was bad. My son is handicapped, has colostomy bags, and has to do insulin injections. On the other hand, I have serious heart problems. We stayed in the island’s camp for one month. The conditions there were bad, it was really cold, we didn’t have food, and we didn’t know when we’re going to travel to Athens”

Fourteen-year-old Tahir has significant health issues, caused by the violence they experienced in Afghanistan. He is partially blind and deaf and one of his kidneys has failed. Hakeem and Tahir travelled to Greece but were left homeless for ten days without food or medication. The Doctors of the World mobile clinic found them in a park and immediately arranged medical care and shelter for father and son. While Tahir was in hospital, Hakeem had a heart attack. Doctors of the World arranged Hakeem’s treatment and hospitalisation and made sure he was in good health when he was discharged.

“It was the first time in so long that I felt safe and that someone truly cared about me, listened to me and understood my problems. It was thanks to the help he received from MdM that my son’s health condition improved, and tomorrow we are going to travel to Austria where I will be reunited with my daughters, and my wife after approximately five months.”

Testimony collected by Médecins du Monde Greece – 2016

Yana is a refugee from Syria, she travelled to Greece with her two sons when she was eight months pregnant with her third child. She and her two sons stayed in the Attica refugee camp in Greece; while in the camp, Yana gave birth.

“When I arrived on the island, a relief washed all over me, I kept thinking that in a few days I would meet my husband in Germany. But then we were transferred to the camp, where things were really difficult. My biggest concern was my pregnancy and the safety of my children.”

She was forced to leave the camp after she refused to give her fellow refugee’s money to stay, and found herself homeless with her three children. The family found shelter in an apartment with two other Syrian families, but it was a short-lived solution. Doctors of the World had helped Yana through her pregnancy in the Attica camp, so were able to track her down through their mobile clinic. When they found Yana her baby was suffering from skin allergies and asthma and Yana had untreated gynecological problems as well as worsening panic attacks.

“Before the intervention of MdM, I had visited a public hospital where I was badly treated by its accountant, who asked me for money for a necessary test that had to be done – I had been informed by the Asylum Service that as long as I had the asylum card the expenses of any medical exams would be covered and I wouldn’t have to pay anything. Left crying and very distraught, I was feeling hopeless and alone”     

Doctors of the World organised for the family to receive medical care, counselling and shelter. They also helped Yana with the family reunification process so that in February they were finally able to reunite with Yana’s husband in Germany.

Testimony collected by Médecins du Monde Greece – 2016

Maria, 50, and her husband are both from Honduras and have been living in Spain for several years. They are only entitled to partial healthcare coverage, which does not cover medical treatments or transport. Both Maria and her husband are diabetic, but their partial coverage does not cover the costs of their insulin medication. Maria does not have the money to pay for the insulin medicine herself, and they need constant access to avoid further health complications. They also cannot afford to pay for regular travel to and from the hospital.

They went to Doctors of the World seeking legal advice on how to access health benefits and fund the cost of their treatment. Doctors of the World applied for social benefits though the social services department and sought aid from NGOs to help fund Maria and her husband’s treatment in the interim.

Testimony collected by Médicos del Mundo (Spain) – 2016

Nancy, 30, is from Cameroon. Her family arranged for her to go to France, while her two children remained in Cameroon with the family. Before arriving in France, Nancy passed through the Maghreb and got lost on the Libyan boarder. It was there she was raped by a Libyan soldier. The trauma she suffered during her journey to France continues to plague her and she has terrible nightmares.

“I’m frightened, I see him all the time, everywhere, I’m frightened”

When Nancy arrived in France her family had arranged for her to stay with a woman who she was to refer to as her “cousin”. Nancy became pregnant shortly after arriving in France, and sought help from a Healthcare, Advise and Referral Clinic (CASO) and the Aide Medicale d’Etat (AME), but was unable to claim expenses. Her first appointment at CASO revealed her HIV status, Nancy was shocked by the news and refused to believe that she was HIV positive.

“I can’t have the virus, if I’m ill why do I feel well? Why can’t it be seen? Why didn’t I know about it beforehand?”

Nancy worried about what her “cousin” would think of her HIV status:

“I won’t be able to return to Cameroon. There, in Cameroon, it’s very badly thought of, I would be banned from my family and people die, if my cousin knows of it she will reject me and throw me out”

Her relationship with her “cousin” deteriorated rapidly after Nancy learnt of her HIV status, leaving her scared to go home but with nowhere else to go. Finding Nancy permanent residence has been difficult due to her legal status. After waiting to get into a Maternity Centre for months, Nancy finally secured a single room and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. To this day though, she has no news about her legal status and is unable to gain access to permanent housing.

Testimony collected by Médecins du Monde France – 2016

Gabriel, 16, was born in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. His father, a cemetery worker, opposed the political regime. Gabriel’s father witnessed the burials of 421 bodies, who were all the victims of government brutality. The same day his father saw the burials, soldiers came to Gabriel’s family’s house to arrest his father, he was accused of alerting outside sources of what he had seen the night the bodies were buried in the cemetery. They beat up his family, including his mother and took his father away.

Gabriel’s father managed to escape incarceration, but it led the soldiers back to his family’s home. This time, Gabriel’s injuries were so severe, his uncle had to take him to the local hospital in Kisandu. They took refuge in his mother’s village, but Gabriel knew he had to leave the DRC. His uncle took him to Brazzaville, and entrusted him to a man who promised to take him to France.

When Gabriel reached Rouen, he was homeless. He had nowhere to go and ran into legal issues with the Aide Sociale à l’Enfance, who were insisting he was not a minor and therefore did not have to provide shelter for him. A Healthcare, Advise and Referral Clinic (CASO) is now providing Gabriel with legal aid, and is hopeful they can help him find shelter in France.

Testimony collected by Médecins du Monde France – 2016

Touba, 16, is a farmer from Guinea, he lost both his parents young and farmed a loaned piece of land alone. He lived with another man, whom he had a sexual relationship with.

“I had to leave Guinea because with the Muslin religion, one has not the right to be with a man. They searched us out. They beat him up. My friend must be dead”

A man helped him leave Guinea and travel to France via Libya. Touba stayed in Libya for two days, and the man took him to Rouen. His wife did not want Touba to stay with them, so he went to the Aide Sociale à l’Enfance (ASE). He tried to relate his story to an ASE worker but they could not understand him, another ASE worker came out and claimed Touba was not a minor and told him to leave. That night, Touba slept outside the ASE, sheltering under the porch when it started raining. The next day he went to the police, who were unable to find him a hostel to stay in and adult accommodation wasn’t available to him either.

“I went to Medecins du Monde. They arranged [a place] for me to sleep, but it was only for several days while a solution was found. I still had the same clothes on so they took me to a charitable association to get some. I would like to learn a trade. I am very fearful of returning to Guinea and being killed”

Testimony collected by Médecins du Monde France – 2016

Nipuni, 84, is from Sri Lanka. She came to the UK to visit her daughter, Hiruni, and her grandchildren. Shortly after arriving in the UK Hiruni noticed that her Mother’s health was starting to deteriorate.

“Me and my sister noticed that my mum was not my mum. She wouldn’t talk much, she would stay in a corner, she wouldn’t say anything. The only time she lit up was with the grandkids.”

Nipuni was suffering from high cholesterol and high blood pressure, she also showed signs of anxiety and depression. Hiruni sought immigration advice to enable Nipuni to stay in the UK so she could care for her. But there was no way to renew Nipuni’s six-month visitor visa. Hiruni tried to register her mother with her GP, but was told that was not possible on a “visiting visa”. Without access to healthcare Hiruni took responsibility for her mother’s health, monitoring her blood pressure daily and buying medication from a doctor in Sri Lanka.

“I was doing her blood pressure and everything at home, keeping a chart, getting all the medicine sent here. I did it for one and a half year”

Family suggested that Hiruni should go to Doctors of the World to seek advice. Doctors of the World provided Nipuni with a letter showing proof of address, to help her register with the GP practice. When they tried to register, the Practice Manager refused to do so without seeing a valid visa.

“You won’t believe how I felt, it was like something I have never ever done in my life, like a criminal, like I had murdered somebody. And then I basically gave up hope.”

Doctors of the World approached the GP practice on Hiruni’s behalf and they finally agreed to register Nipuni and monitor her health status. Nipuni’s blood pressure and cholesterol medication are now managed by her GP and she is also receiving cataracts treatment.

“It was as though the Practice Manager was a different person. He assisted in the registration and asked if any urgent appointments needed to be made. I still have that message on my phone. I don’t want to delete it because it makes me so happy.”

Testimony collected by Doctors of the World (UK) – 2016

Ioana, 37, has been living on the streets of Bucharest since she was 12. Ioana is an injecting-drug user and has been a client of the Caracuda drop-in centre for the past two years. In 2016, she went to the centre for a pregnancy test, which came back positive. In Romania, pregnant women benefit from free medical insurance for the duration of their pregnancy and for a short while after the birth.

“After two or three months, I went by myself [to hospital], but they didn’t want to see me. I explained that I was pregnant and I wanted to see if the baby was ok and also told them that I knew that I had the right so be seen, yet they still refused.”

Desperate to see a doctor to make sure her baby was healthy, Ioana went to another hospital.

“After waiting for a couple of hours, a female doctor saw me but she just looked at me and didn’t do any tests. I left as I had come, knowing nothing new about the pregnancy or the baby. I know that if I use drugs I endanger the baby, but I can’t just stop cold-turkey. I am trying to reduce the dose, ease off the drugs. This is why I wanted to go the hospital, to make sure the baby is fine. I just hope the baby is ok and will be healthy when born.”

Testimony collected by Carusel (Romania) – 2016

Mihai, 29, is an injecting drug user living in Bucharest. He has been injecting heroin since he was 13 and he has been a client of Caracuda drop-in centre since it opened.

In 2016 Mihai went to the drop-in centre and asked for betadine and sterile gauze to self-treat wounds on his legs. A week later he consented to being examined by the doctor at the centre who immediately referred him to the hospital. The staff at the hospital refused to see him.

They said I was HIV positive, without actually testing me, and refused to look at me. They sent me to another hospital, Victor Babes Infectious Diseases Hospital, where they work with HIV positive drug users. But once I arrived there, doctors said that they cannot see me until another doctor sees my leg wounds and dresses them and I get an antibiotic prescribed, which they can’t do there, and I should go back where I came from.”

The staff at the drop-in centre obtained official documentation showing he was HIV negative so he could be treated. The doctor at the hospital said that Mihai only qualified for emergency care as he did not have insurance. CARUSEL covered most of the cost of Mihai’s medical insurance, so his legs could be treated. Mihai has recovered well, but is constantly concerned about maintaining his medical insurance. To stay covered Mihai has to pay 5.5% of the minimum wage monthly, which he currently cannot afford.

Testimony collected by Carusel (Romania) – 2016

Yasir is 29-year-old and is an asylum seeker from Somalia. His home village was devastated by conflict, and Yasir feared for his life. He sought refuge in Norway, leaving behind his friends and family. He applied for asylum but his application was rejected and he has no means to access healthcare.

He started having trouble breathing after moving to Norway. A friend he lived with had tuberculosis (TB), concerned he also had TB Yasir decided to go to hospital for a check-up. The check-up cleared Yasir of TB, but instead it revealed a serious heart condition. He needed a heart valve replacement, and will need life-long care and medication.

“I am very sick and cannot go back to Somalia. But UNE (appeals body for immigration cases) and UDI (the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) do not believe I am from Somalia, that is the reason why my application for asylum was rejected”

Yasir now receives regular health checks from the team at the Health Centre for Undocumented Migrants. He is hopeful he will be able to stay in Norway, if he returns to Somalia he fears he will not be able to access the necessary medication and follow-up treatment.

Testimony collected by the Health Centre for Undocumented Migrants (Norway) – 2016

Nazaneen is pregnant, and an undocumented migrant in her twenties living in Norway. She was in an abusive relationship, but when her partner started to threaten her life and throw objects at her stomach, Nazaneen fled to protect her unborn child.

Nazaneen went to the Health Centre for Undocumented Migrants to receive healthcare during her pregnancy. The Health Centre staff arranged accommodation for her in a local women’s shelter, but she was asked to leave after her first night when they learned she was an undocumented migrant. The Health Centre also supported Nazaneen to access antenatal care. Although healthcare for pregnant women in Norway is free regardless of residency status, Nazaneen faced discrimination from healthcare staff when she went to the local hospital. They made reproachful comments about why she had chosen to get pregnant and scared her by informing her she had been billed for all the healthcare services they had provided.

Testimony collected by the Health Centre for Undocumented Migrants (Norway) – 2016

Joyce, 29, fled Nigeria in 2009 after family pressured her to undergo female genital mutilation. She fled to the Netherlands but found it difficult to find work without valid papers. Joyce has an 11-month-old daughter and is 28-week pregnant with her second child. She developed kidney stones and sought help from Doctors of the World. Joyce is dependent on a friend for shelter, and food banks.

“The only food I get is carbohydrate, which is not healthy for me and the baby. There are no vegetables, fruit or meat. I also didn’t get baby food. I have no money. I can’t buy healthy food for myself, my little daughter and the baby.”

Doctors of the World are helping Joyce to secure food and vitamins for her and her daughter. After the birth of her second child, Joyce is hoping to apply for asylum and stay in the Netherlands permanently.

Testimony collected by MdM Netherlands – 2016

Arabella, a care bus volunteer in Amsterdam, was called to a Bed Bath Bread (BBB) when there were fears over the health of one of the residents. The man had been sick for several days, he could not eat or drink and had nausea and diarrhoea. His illness was further complicated by his diabetes and low blood pressure. As his condition was not considered life threatening, the ambulance service refused to take him to hospital and GP practices would not see him as an emergency appointment.

“It was clear that this gentleman had to see a doctor who could refer him to the hospital. After contacting eight GPs, there were two doctors who were maybe willing to help. One of the doctors believed that the BBB was too far away from him and that we had to find a doctor who was closer to the BBB. Fortunately, another practitioner called back and said he was willing to help if the man came to him.”

The GP willing to help was unable to make a house call, even when Arabella explained how sick and immobile he was. With few options available to them, Arabella and the BBB employees eventually managed to arrange transport for the sick man to go directly to the GP and receive medical attention.

Testimony collected by MdM Netherlands – 2016

Miri is a 32-year-old Bulgarian Roma living in Germany. She and her husband cannot find employment and therefore cannot access health care or housing. They have two children and are expecting a third, a little boy. Miri needed regular access to antenatal checks, as well as shelter for her family. The family got in touch with Doctors of the World, who made sure Miri had access to antenatal care and provided clothes and school materials for her elder children.

“I was happy to hear that there is an organisation that provides free medical care for individuals who cannot afford it and do not have any health coverage, not even in the country of origin, like us.”

When both of her eldest children contracted a herpes infection, Doctors of the World took the family to the hospital and made sure they knew how to fill out the relevant forms for the children to receive health care.

Testimony collected by MdM Germany – 2016

Klaus is a 60-year-old German national. He got divorced in 2006 and moved out of the flat he shared with his wife. Since then, Klaus has found it difficult to cope financially. In 2016 he lost his job and has struggled to find work. Without employment, Klaus has no health insurance.

I could never afford the medication I need, by myself. The social benefits I am receiving are just not sufficient for my monthly expenditure and subsistence allowance, which I pay for my son.”

After months of not seeking medical help for his high blood pressure and being too ashamed to ask for help from a family friend who is a doctor, Klaus saw a flyer for Doctors of the World. The clinic identified his high blood pressure and now provide medical treatment.

Testimony collected by MdM Germany – 2016

Tomas is a 39-year-old Romanian citizen living in Germany. In late 2015, he left his hometown of Timisoara in search of a new life. As a type one diabetic he had hoped his Romanian health insurance would be valid in Germany, but when he arrived in Germany, he found out it was impossible for him to access the German healthcare system.

“My insulin supplies ended and I fell into a coma. I went to hospital for a week and after waking up I was released with a supply that lasted me nearly one week. Since I don’t speak German, I encountered great language barriers. I couldn’t understand the doctors and the doctors couldn’t understand me”

Tomas was admitted back into hospital in February after insufficient insulin regulation led to his toe being amputated. He was once again sent away with a week’s worth of insulin supplies. The day his insulin was due to run out, a panicked Tomas found Doctors of the World.

“I had a piece of paper in my hand with two German words on it: ‘Insulin, please!’”

Doctors of the World provided a Romanian translator to help him write the family medical history the hospital required. They were also able to get Tomas access to medication, check-ups and a blood sugar testing device. Tomas found a place to stay thanks to help from another charity and is now optimistic he can find work and settle into his new life.

Testimony collected by MdM Germany – 2016

Two years ago when she was still in Bulgaria, Ioana, a 35 years old Bulgarian Turkish Roma, noticed a knot in her breast. She did not see a doctor, hoping that it was not serious.

“I went to school until the 8th grade, after that I worked in a factory. During the crisis the company broke down and I lost my job and my health insurance.”

Since then she only worked occasionally in harvesting and as a nanny. In the meantime, the knot in her breast got bigger.

I worried, but did not have the courage to go to a doctor, I was so afraid to hear a negative diagnosis”.

The knot developed into a wound on the outside of the breast, opening and bleeding each time she took a shower.

In the summer of 2015 Ioana came to Germany to look for a better job and stayed with her brother’s family. When they saw the wound, they took her to the Hoffnungsorte and MdM clinic in Hamburg: she was diagnosed with breast cancer, with a high risk of metastasis. She could not believe it, and the team took a lot of time to help her see the need for a treatment. Together with an interpreter and a social worker they organized the necessary papers to receive the reimbursement of the operation costs.

After [the operation] I want to find a job so that I can finance a health insurance again.”

Testimony collected by MdM Germany – Hamburg – December 2015

Lili comes from South East Asia and is 35 years old. She has been living for several years in Munich without papers, working as a nanny for a family from her country of origin. She has a child of her own that she had to leave behind and hasn’t seen for many years.

The first time we saw her, she was very shy and had a lot of fear. She told us that she hadn’t seen a doctor in the last five years and had pain in her whole body: abdominal pain, dental pain, headaches. We arranged several appointments with a dentist and a gynecologist and her health situation could improve. By chance, she also met another patient from her home country with a similar story.

Having a place to turn to and knowing that she is not the only one in this situation, has helped Lili building up confidence. She is currently intending to get her residence permit with the help of our partner organization Café 104.

Testimony collected by MdM Germany – Munich – August 2015

Lisy, 28, arrived in Switzerland from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in September (2015). She was held by soldiers from late May to late August.

‘‘They put me in a small windowless room and constantly raped me, sometimes several soldiers at a time, with my hands bound.’’

She said that the day of her kidnapping, her mother was raped and killed right in front of her and her father executed. Overcome by extreme sorrow, Lisy cries continuously during the consultation. She demonstrates the clinical manifestations of trauma, but expresses difficulty following a specialised treatment routine:

I have nightmares and the feeling that I’m reliving all of that… I avoid talking about it because they ask a lot of questions to find out if I can get asylum but I draw blanks… Do you believe me?

Testimony collected by MdM Switzerland – Neuchâtel – December 2015

Habeeba comes from Nigeria and is 27 years old.

When I arrived in Belgium, I discovered I had been walking around with a tumor in my uterus for 2 years. It had gotten so big that the doctors initially thought I was pregnant. I tried to get financial coverage for an operation through the Public Social Action Center (CPAS), but they refused to help me because I couldn’t prove that I lived in Antwerp. I postponed medical care, and in the end, things got so bad that I had to be admitted to the emergency room for immediate operation.  Afterwards, I got a gigantic bill but fortunately, the people from Doctors of the World mediated with the CPAS and I finally got the medical coverage that I was entitled to. We’re 3 years later now and I’m still tumor free. I almost lost my uterus, luck was on my side.”

Testimony collected by MdM Belgique – Antwerp – May 2015

The Nasri are undocumented migrants from Morocco living in Belgium since 2009. Their youngest daughter has a severe mental and physical handicap. Despite the fact that she is entitled to receive care through the Urgent Medical Help Procedure, the local authorities deny this access.

Djamila is 8 years old. She’s not able to walk or talk. Screaming and pulling her hair are her main means for expression. The doctors [MdM Antwerp] told us she needs to see a neurologist, psychiatrist and needs different scans. But the CPAS refuses to pay for the medical examinations, claiming we don’t cooperate enough with the social investigation.

The regularisation on medical grounds was refused, arguing that Djamila was already handicapped before we came to Belgium.

Our daughter needs professional help. Help that we can’t provide. Help that is being refused again and again by the authorities.  My husband has become suicidal, says we should all just jump under a train, that there is no future for us anymore.  I’m scared for my family, scared for my child.”

Testimony collected by MdM Belgique – Antwerp – May 2015

Wissem, 21, fled Iraq.

I left my country because you couldn’t do anything there due to Daesh. The army had been present in my city, then one day I woke up and Daesh had replaced the army in the streets. They controlled everything, including the roads. No more university. No more anything. When I told my family I wanted to leave, they told me not to do it, that it was too dangerous, but I left anyways. A man got me some clothes, like the kind Daesh wears. I disguised myself and was able to get out.

Wissem had to make two attempts to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border and spent several hundred euros on smugglers.

I spent 12 hours in the woods at the Serbian-Hungarian border. A Serbian police car stopped me. The officer said, ‘If you help me, I’ll help you.’ He wanted €300 to let me go. He gave me directions, saying I could avoid the Hungarian authorities by going a certain way. But it was a lie; after four hours, I reached a Serbian village! The police caught me and took me right back to where I started.

The next day, a Syrian refugee offered to help us. He had already crossed the border and knew a way to get through. He demanded €200 a person to take us across. I paid along with eight other men. But once we got to the border, the man disappeared. I suggested that we break up into two groups to be less conspicuous. We hid in the woods. A police officer shouted, ‘I see you!’ So we stayed hidden and waited for the right moment to take a run for it. We finally reached a village in Hungary, which was empty – a ghost village. There we found a taxi for Vienna. But the other group went to Budapest. We all ended up together in Vienna.

In Vienna, Wissem and his companion received help: someone gave them shelter then bought them bus tickets, which allowed them to reach Brussels without any problems.

Testimony collected by MdM Belgium – Parc Maximilien – September 2015

My boat sank somewhere between Turkey and Greece and we stayed in the water for an hour, including families with young children, before being rescued. The police took us back to Turkey and we had to start over. I saved my friend’s life who didn’t know how to swim.”

Faiz, 20, left everything behind to travel from Iraq to Belgium except for his cellphone and some money that he hid in his underwear.

When you are on the road, the only thing you want is to arrive as soon as possible. You don’t care about where you sleep, how you sleep, what you eat and whether you eat or not. You’ll have time to rest later. You need to move forward. It took me 17 days to get here.

Testimony collected by MdM Belgium – Parc Maximilien – September 2015

Tarik and Manel, an Iraqi couple in their 30s, fled the violence of war.

Manel: “Daesh killed my little brother. He was 26 years old. My brother was very handsome. My father died from grief after his death.”

It took them two months to reach Parc Maximilien after travelling through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Germany. The boat they took between Turkey and Greece sank.

Tarik: ‘‘My wife doesn’t know how to swim. I had to hold her up so I swallowed large amounts of seawater. After we were saved by the Greek police, we went to Athens, where I was refused medical care when I went to hospital because I didn’t have the necessary papers. I did, however, have serious kidney problems from the boat sinking and drinking salty water. Here in Belgium, I’m too afraid to go to the health facilities because I don’t know how much it’s going to cost.

Testimony collected by MdM Belgium – Parc Maximilien – September 2015

Amin is a 17-year-old Somalian

“I have been in Europe for five months. I left from Somalia. There, no security, Boko Haram, Daesh, terrorism. You know… From Somalia, I passed through Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Libya, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Belgium. It’s been two months that I am in Belgium. But because they took my fingerprints in Italy first, I was deported there. I just got back. I do not want to live in Italy.”

Between February and April 2015, Amin was locked up in a detention camp in Libya.

“It was overcrowded. We were 600 or 700 people in the same room. We sleep on the floor. And they give you a loaf of bread a day. It is managed by private militias. Not by the government. There are women and children. And no medical help. I was beaten, yes. Above all, do not say you’re sick. Otherwise you will be taken outside and killed. They do it outside. You can die every day. I don’t have a home anymore. And I am without hope for my future. My life is not going to get better here. ”

Testimony collected by MdM Belgium – Parc Maximilien – September 2015

Sami, a 33-year-old Iraqi, left his country to flee Daesh

The militias make the law; the army is everywhere, and the Iranian secret services, too. We hid on a boat between Turkey and Greece for six hours with 55 people before the Turkish smugglers allowed us to set foot on land on a Greek island. They abandoned us there, so we called for help after a few hours. We had no water or food and I waited three days for help with my other travel companions, including women and children. When the police arrived on the third day, I was weak and dehydrated.”

Sami’s back problems grew worse during the trip and he only got limited care at the makeshift “camp” where he and his companions were taken

Forced to leave by the police the next day, I reached Athens, where I went directly to a pharmacy. I didn’t want to go to a hospital out of fear of being arrested. The pharmacist wouldn’t let me pay.

Testimony collected by MdM Belgium – Parc Maximilien – September 2015