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Syrian Refugee Crisis in Their Own Words

Syrian Refugee Crisis in Their Own Words

By now we’ve all seen the seen the statistics, viewed the awful photos and debated a solution to the Syrian refugee crisis. But while the world seems to be arguing amongst each other we seem to be ignoring the main source of advice on how to solve the problem, the refugees themselves. 

When I interviewed Abdul the first thing I noticed was his age. At 26 years of age the most hardship I’ve had in life is having to sleep on friends’ floors for a time period while I looked for work, but at the same age Abdul has been detained by government forces, fled a war-zone with his family, almost died fleeing, and now struggles to find work and support his family due to his immigration status.

With all the ideas flying around for a solution to the crisis, maybe it’s time to admit we cannot even begin to understand everything these individuals have been through and first and foremost look to them and their stories for answers to this crisis. 

Name: Abdul Majeed Alnimir

Age: 26 Years

Sex: Male

Area of residence in Syria: Reef of Damascus – ALHAMAH

Occupation in Syria: Electronics and Communications Engineer

Marital Status: Married

Where is your family? My mother and father are in Saudi Arabia.  Additionally, I have a 20 year old brother in Egypt and another 23 year old brother in Damascus. My wife and daughter are with me in Bulgaria, Sofia.


Abdul with his daughter (From Facebook).

Current residence:  In Bulgaria “Afsha Copul” Camp in Sofia

What is your current occupation? I tried to work but no body agreed to let me work with them, even in restaurants, because I did not have a residence permit and the Bulgarian government does not grant the right work before 1 year.

When did you leave Syria? September 17th 2012

Why did you leave Syria? Because of my incarceration by the Assad Regime’s men for 60 days and the smell of death was everywhere.

What were the steps of your journey? Because my house was destroyed during the battles and I lost all my money, after my release from incarceration I did not have enough money to travel.  I borrowed some money from my friends and travelled to Lebanon and stayed there for a while before travelling to Egypt, because it was the cheapest country and life there was easy and cheap. I decided to work in Egypt to save enough money to travel to Europe. The situation in Egypt was absolutely disastrous, there were detentions and deportations of Syrians and insults everywhere. I was blessed with a daughter in Egypt, but was not able to register her at the embassy; their reply was that I did not have the right to register my daughter, because it was against the regime and was subjected to blackmail….. 

After two years in Egypt, I made the decision to travel to Europe, but I did not want to risk the life of my daughter and wife in the sea to Italy from Egypt.  I was not able to travel and leave them behind in Egypt alone, thus I decided to travel to Turkey first and then to Bulgaria through the forests.  

Now I am in “Afsha Copul” camp in Sofia since Jan 1st 2015.  My application to be awarded residency or right to asylum was rejected, let it be known that Kurdish Syrians are given the right to Asylum within 60 days only.

What event affected you the most during the trip? When we were in the forest, I was carrying a backpack and my daughter was between my arms – she was a year and a half at the time.  My wife was behind me, she too was carrying a backpack.  After 6 hours of hiking in the Turkish forests, the smuggler left us.  We were lost and did not know the directions, the weather was rainy and severely cold.  I did not have any food or even enough water.  I felt helpless and I thought to myself “I did not want to travel sea because I was afraid for my family and here I am subjecting them to death that I myself paid for, to the smuggler, and came to this death willingly.” It was then that I felt how cheap we became in this world.  

Another 8 hours passed by with the same situation before all hope was lost to find  a village or a road or a person to rescue me and my family.  I laid my daughter down on the ground and hugged her, I dosed off for a moment of complete hopelessness.  I will die here and no one will know about me.  I was blaming myself the whole time – I killed my daughter and wife with my own hands and paid 1000 dollars for it.  Because of that I closed my eyes and began to recite verses from the Quran and dosed off… 

After a few minutes I heard shouting from a far and I woke myself up to find dogs on top of me and a bright light shined down on me and I couldn’t see anything.  For a moment I thought that it was the angel of death before my train of thought was cut off by words in a language I did not understand or ever heard before.  It was then that I realized they were the Bulgarian border guards.


Abdul’s daughter on the Bulgarian border.

How can the world help refugees displaced from Syria?  We the people of Syria are working class people, I speak about the Syrian people as a whole and not about the minorities that you see looking for countries that grant asylum seekers the biggest allowances and longest residence permits.  We are people that love life despite its cruelty to us.  We do not want the countries of world to just give us allowances, food and drink. That way we become like those who are being raised like cows being fed and given drink, we destroy our future with our own hands. 

 Just grant us the opportunity to work to prove ourselves to our host country that were are people with excellent skills and craftsmanship, talented and innovative.  

Take myself as a simple example, I decided to settle in Bulgaria, because the money that I have does not afford me the ability to continue my travels towards Germany.  I decided to live here in a camp that could be at the least described as a cattle farm. The food is so bad that no one wants it and there is no monthly allowance to speak of.  I have been here for 9 months now and I haven’t received even one Bulgarian “Lev” for support.  I have a daughter and a wife, no money and I am not allowed to work?!?! What do they want from me, to sit here and eat this animal food and sleep for a year?

I do not blame the Bulgarian government, we’re thankful for them hosting us and I know that they are a somewhat a poor government with a weak economy. I blame its decision to not grant me the right to work, that’s it, and I am capable of recreating and supporting myself and building myself a future.  I am a communications engineer and used to work as a manager at an Italian company, DeLonghi, in Syria.  My wife is an expert in Arabic literature.  I would like to be productive, but sadly at the end, it is all political decisions and not humanitarian; the Kurdish Syrian is granted residency in 60 days only.

Even though he does not (referencing Kurdish Syrians) believe in Syria as his country and considers it as occupying his land. He does not even speak Arabic.

I am a Syrian from Damascus, 270 days later and my application for asylum has been rejected, even though I am the one that suffered from the injustice and incarcerations and was forced to migrate.  I am sorry, but Europe is not humanitarian at all, it is more political than our Fascist Arabian Regimes.

How can Individuals help refugees? They can grant us the trust and not admonish us as soon as they know that we are Arab or Syrian and conclude that we are terrorists or that we present danger to their livelihood or make us feel that our presence is unwanted.  

Yes it is their country, but I feel it is my country as well, because I will work to build it up just like they do and will pay my due taxes.  I am also concerned for the safety of the country – for me, for them and for my family.  I am thankful for the people of Bulgaria, because I work in the Association for Bulgarian Women Refugees and witness on a daily basis individual Bulgarians donating many items like their clothes and personal things. They are warm and kind people.  People are always sympathetic to one another away from conflict and government interests.



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