A stranded Syrian mother receives life-changing news

Hanna and Ahmed’s journey is finally about to end

By Angela Hawke
Syrian mother Hanna hugs her son Ahmed at their temporary home in Greece.
UNICEF/Greece

04 May 2017

Ahmed, aged four, has already been through so much in his short life. When his family left Syria in search of a better life, he was just six-months-old. During the long journey, he developed brain hypoxia. His brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and he can’t move his right leg or arm very well.

Now living in Greece, he is one of nearly 25,000 children in Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and Western Balkans who are stranded and facing an uncertain future. All are at risk of serious stress – particularly those waiting to be reunited with family members in other EU countries.

Ahmed’s story is not unusual: his father and brothers pushed on through Greece to Germany before border closures barred the way. Ahmed and his mother Hanna have not seen any of them for three years.

But today they are getting the news they have been waiting for: their application to join the rest of their family has been approved at last.

While UNICEF supports the long-term integration of refugee and migrant children in to the communities where they now live, we also know that keeping families together is the best way to ensure that children are protected.

Our support for family reunification is part of our Agenda for Action for refugee and migrant children, which aims to change attitudes in every country.

  1. Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
  2. End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating.
  3. Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status.
  4. Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services.
  5. Press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants.
  6. Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.


We must all stand with #ChildrenUprooted.