The Fortress

Monday evening, when we get ready for night shift, we get the news that the gate has been closed already. We expected it to happen, but not this early. For a while, we don't know what to do, until ten minutes before it is time to go, we receive a call from the field not to come, that there is no need, as there are no refugees anymore. That the entire group will join the camp in the morning to pack our material.

Our help is no longer needed here.


Our help is no longer needed here. (Röszke 15/09/2015)

Well rested and fit for work, the night team sits together in the garden having beers and feeling useless. Obviously, there are no more refugees at Röszke camp anymore, but this does not mean the problem is solved. People keep fleeing war and persecution, people keep trying to reach Europe by tens of thousands. They will not stop trying everything, putting their life at stake because Hungary built a fence. And they will keep arriving, with nothing but a few belongings, desperate and exhausted.

Nobody is coming this way anymore.


Nobody is coming this way anymore. (Röszke 15/09/2015)

In the morning, we arrive at the camp which is no more. Everybody is packing, collecting mattresses and other supplies left behind which might be useful somewhere else. Part of our team goes to scout at the only crossing which has not been closed yet, a few kilometres away. Another delegation is assigned to check out the situation at the train station. We go to see the gate, one last time.

No access to the fortress.


The fortress is closed. (Röszke 15/09/2015)

It has been closed with a freight wagon covered in barbed wire. Soldiers and a few journalists are there. We watch a group of refugees approaching, their disappointment of finding no gate is heartbreaking. They sit down on the tracks, one young man says he is going to stay there. I hate standing on the right side of the fence, not able even to stay with them. One journalist keeps asking if there is somebody of them speaking English. There are a few, I heard them talking before, but nobody volunteers. I ask in Arabic if voice had not spread that they closed the gate last night. Stupid question, would they have come here if they had known? I keep repeating that I am so sorry. Tears running down my cheeks.

You are not welcome.


You are not welcome. (Röszke 15/09/2015)

Back at the camp which is no more, we have a debriefing in our team. It is good to gather one last time just the few of us and exchange about this experience. Then it is time to leave. It feels wrong. Our job in Röszke is done, but there remains so much to do in other places. So many people still dearly need help, a cup of warm sweet tea, internet access to get in touch with their families, somebody who is just there with them and acknowledges them as human beings.

After a very long and emotional debriefing at the apartment, some of us decide to stay and find out where they can provide help. Most decide to travel home and check out form there what can be done. The story is not over yet.

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