Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan visited the Greek island of Lesbos with the International Rescue Committee on April 25 to raise awareness of the ongoing refugee crisis and meet Syrians and other refugees who have fled conflict zones to seek safety and a new start in Europe.
Rania was invited by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid agency which has installed showers, toilets, laundry facilities and lights at Kara Tepe, a camp established to house refugees.
The refugee crisis is not a foreign one to Rania, whose nation has already received almost 1 million refugees from Syria.
“Refugees are not numbers, they are human beings like you and me. Except that they have seen unimaginable horror, experienced unthinkable hardship and risked their lives to get here,” she said in a statement released after her visit.
The queen visited IRC services in the Kara Tepe refugee site, including an information tent where newly arrived refugees can find out how to register and receive assistance, and a kiosk where we distribute toiletries and other essential supplies.
More than 950 refugees are currently sheltering in Kara Tepe, while thousands more are stranded in Idomeni in northern Greece as borders along the Balkan route to Europe remain sealed.
Queen Rania applauded the “remarkable empathy and kindness” the Greek people have shown to refugees despite their own economic hardship.
In Kara Tepe, the queen met with Syrian women who are trying to join family members now in Germany. One of them, Maha*, amedical student who was just one year away from completing her studies when the war started, told her, “We just want to get out of here. Here, there is no education.”
Queen Rania visited Wafa and Ahmad from Deir Izzor, Syria; their one-month-old son Baker; and Ahmad’s 67-year-old mother, Amal Ali, who has been seriously ill with a heart condition while in Kara Tepe.
The queen spent the afternoon with a group of Syrian women in Kara Tepe who shared stories of how they were caught in the crossfire of bombings and shootouts. Many have relatives elsewhere in Europe and urgently want to be reunited with their families.
Photos by IRC.