Layla welcomes her sister, who fled Gaza, and her baby to Cairo, delighted and at the same time dismayed by their condition.

People sit in front of a tent camp.

Palestinian refugees in Rafah, on the border with Egypt Photo: Saleh Salem/Reuters

layla (Name changed at his request) was born and raised in Gaza. He has lived in Cairo for 15 years.

From Egypt, I wanted to start a crowdfunding campaign in December to get my father, sister, and their baby out of Gaza. But it doesn't work with my Egyptian account, so we raised the money through donations from friends and family around the world. The surprising news is: at least we managed to get my sister and her baby out.

An acquaintance from France came and brought me the cash, I met her at the Cairo airport, took her bag and then prepared all the documents for my sister and her little daughter. The amount of money was only enough for the two of them. I went to the company that received the payments to register the names on the list so I could cross the border to Rafah. That was February 29. They said it would be two weeks at most before it was their turn, but we waited and waited.

We didn't want to tell anyone about this because we weren't sure it would really happen and that my sister would manage to escape this hell safely with her baby. After a month and four days of patient and hopeful waiting, her name finally appeared on the list and she managed to cross the borders safely with her baby. They were super exhausted, stressed, confused, sad, but also safe and relieved.

she was so thin

They are now in my apartment. They only left Gaza with a backpack, even without a passport. But we managed to get a new passport for my sister and the baby from Ramallah in the West Bank and they sent it to me in Cairo. Now we go to the embassy and visa office to transfer the entry stamp to the new passport.

I felt very happy and touched when I saw her, my sister whom I had not seen in 12 years. She was still in school the last time I visited with my son, and he was only two years old. I was also surprised because she was super skinny. She is still breastfeeding and has been hungry for six months.

Our fight continues: our father is still in Gaza.

Protocol: Judith Poppe

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