The smiling face at the end of a long journey
(JB) Syrian antiques dealer Halim Abdoulrazzak's friendly smily face is a welcome ray of sunshine for the displaced people who first arrive in Luxembourg.
A volunteer at Hall 6 in Luxexpo, the foyer for processing refugees upon arrival, Halim's helpful personality and aptitude for languages enable him to get to know each person who arrives and accompany in the first steps of their new lives.
“I know all the refugees who come there and I help them. Anything they ask of me, I try to help. Most people speak other languages so I translate for them, for example when they go to the doctor. If they need something from OLAI and don't know where to start I translate for them,” he told wort.lu.
As the 41st resident at the centre after it opened last year, Halim knows how hard it can be to adjust but if he struggles he does not show it. He reluctantly left his home town of Amouda in Syria last year for Europe, with the intention of bringing his wife and two daughters later.
Upon reaching Izmir in Turkey, he was struck by the terrible conditions in which certain displaced people were living: sleeping on the street. Instead of continuing his journey, he stayed for almost a month and called on all of his contacts to do something to help these people.
"I cried when I saw how some people were living"
“I cried when I saw how some people were living and said I must do something,” Halim said, adding: “I used my contacts to get them what they needed: food, clothing, milk for the children. I went all over Izmir where there were refugees and of course there were always new people arriving.”
The project, dubbed Musicare, continues today and Halim coordinates it from Luxembourg.
On Tuesday, Halim's courageous efforts were acknowledged by the Luxembourg Peace Prize when he was awarded for Outstanding Peace Activist, recognition which brought tears to Halim's eyes.
Citizens of Europe recognised
His was not the only local efforts to be recognised at the annual ceremony organised by the Schengen Peace Foundation at the Robert Schuman building.
The Luxembourg Red Cross and the citizens of Europe who have assisted in helping the millions of displaced people travelling to Europe were awarded for Outstanding Peace Organisation.
Accepting the prize Luxembourg Red Cross director Marc Crochet said the past year had presented challenges he had never faced in his career. He expressed sadness at the way some people had turned their backs on the human crisis the mass migration had generated. But said he was heartened by the enormous efforts made by the thousands of refugees in Luxembourg. “In Luxembourg we still think we can make a difference,” he said.
Mr Crochet also talked about the difficulties faced by displaced people when they reach Luxembourg, having lived through trauma and being faced with an uncertain future. “These people have been living through hard things. They bring them with them. It's not all a colourful bright society,” he said, adding: “We have to deal with not having the right infrastructure to take in this people. They are ending up in exhibition halls, storage rooms, awful places. This is not fun. They go with it for a while.”
Other 2016 laureats
Other 2016 laureats included: Steve Killelea from the Global Peace Index for Outstanding Peace Technology, Asma Khalifa, co-founder of Amazing Women Movement in Libya for Outstanding Youth Peaceworker, Associazione Rondine Cittadella della Pace in Italy for Outstanding Peace Education, Sergine Saliou Cisse from Senegal for Outstanding Peace Support and Ninevah Province citizens in Iraq for Outstanding Public Peace Efforts.