Parents

Father's Day salute: These refugee dads risk everything for their kids

They’re just like dads anywhere in the world: looking out for their families, keeping kids in check when necessary, doting on them whenever possible.

Courtesy Operation Refugee Child
A father and daughter share a happy moment at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece, on the Macedonian border, in April.

But this Sunday, thousands of refugee men in Europe will be spending Father’s Day with little to celebrate. It'll be another day trying to survive in crowded camps, worrying about their children’s future and wondering if they’ll ever find a peaceful place to go home to.

Many risked everything to get here in the hopes their kids would have a better life.

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Courtesy Operation Refugee Child
A family at the Eko Gas Station camp in Greece.

As Europe struggles with the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with more than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East since last year, families that survive the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea are filling tent cities in Greece. Most are coming from Syria and Afghanistan.

Operation Refugee Child (ORC), an aid group founded by California moms, took these photos of refugee dads doing the best they can. The TODAY show accompanied ORC on a volunteer trip to distribute backpacks of supplies to children this spring.

See more photos of refugee dads caring for kids, including a series of photos that won a Pulitzer Prize this year, in this Huffington Post story.

Related: Refugee crisis: How American moms decided to make a difference for kids

Courtesy Operation Refugee Child

This young family from Aleppo, Syria, was living at the Eko Gas Station camp when ORC met them in April. Salma and her husband are holding their 1-year-old baby Abdullah who was ill with a cough. Since he wasn't improving, his father decided to take him to the doctor and spent the whole day trying to arrange medical attention.

Related: Here's how you can help the refugees

Courtesy Operation Refugee Child

A dad and his baby enjoy a happy moment in March in the makeshift Idomeni camp, where tens of thousands of people were stranded earlier this year. All the refugees there have since been relocated.

Related: Full coverage of parents Making a Difference in the Syrian refugee crisis

Courtesy Operation Refugee Child

Ammar is a father of two from Syria. He was living at the Eko Gas Station camp when the ORC team met him in April. This week, Ammar said he and his family have been transferred to another camp, whose name he doesn't know and where the conditions are horrible.

He would like the world to know all he wants is peace.

"It is really hard for me with the war in my country. I am scared for my kids; I don't want them to live like this," he told ORC. "My kids have been asking for good food for months now, but I can't provide. Every day, they ask me when they can go back to their house and their school. I keep saying tomorrow. I feel ashamed because I can't do anything for my kids."

Courtesy Operation Refugee Child

The Kurdish family above was living at the BP Station camp, which has since been evacuated. ORC volunteers helped the family find a doctor to see their son.

Courtesy Operation Refugee Child

This is Abdullah, a refugee from Afghanistan who has been living in Greece for the last three months. His wife is pregnant and expecting their first child in November.

"I have mixed emotions about becoming a father as I feel responsible to feed, clothe, and educate our new child — a tough burden to carry in our current situation," he told ORC.

Courtesy Operation Refugee Child

"I wish all the refugee fathers strength to provide both financial and emotional support to their children. Happy Father's Day to all refugee fathers in the world. You are the best fathers because you support your children even though you have no money."

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'It's about the children': American moms on helping Syrian refugees

Play Video - 1:51

'It's about the children': American moms on helping Syrian refugees

Play Video - 1:51

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