A Barrow man who has returned from a stint as a volunteer on the Greek island of Leros is keen to raise the awareness of the plight of the refugees he met and helped.
Ian McAuslane (61), a retired Royal Blackburn Hospital bio-medical scientist, recently returned from a nine-day trip to Leros, where he volunteered independently in a camp which housed more than 1,000 refugees, after they had been trafficked across the sea from neighbouring Turkey.
All of the people I met were, without exception, gentle, dignified and so grateful for the help we were offeringIan McAuslane
Ian, a grandfather of four, said: “A large proportion of the people that I met were families with very young children – the youngest I encountered was only 17 days old and had survived a night time five-hour sea crossing.
“I was involved in the feeding and clothing of wet, hungry people who were mainly from Syria, Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, although there were others from war-torn countries such as Sudan, too.”
During his time in the camp, Ian heard many stories of refugees who had not made it across the sea on their fateful journeys: “Only last week, seven children were drowned on the way to Leros via Farmakonisi.
“All of the people I met were, without exception, gentle, dignified and so grateful for the help we were offering. Many were professional people including nurses, dentists, teachers, electrical engineers, painters and decorators and joiners.
“All they ask is to be able to live peacefully without daily threat to their lives and families from civil war and extremism.
“I hope to encourage others to volunteer and also ask people to support my appeal for funds for the camp – the refugees need much more support and acceptance for them to be able to gain sanctuary in Europe.”
l To support Ian’s request for help for the refugees, please visit: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/ian-mcauslane