“I still have hope that we will all return to our warm home and beautiful city” — Interview with Syrian refugee, Somaya

A woman from Homs, Syria, now a refugee in Lebanon, shows off knitted woolen clothes that she’s learnt how to make. Photo: DFID/Flickr
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Tell me about your life and how you got here.

I am Somaya, a mother of three children, two daughters and a son. At the beginning of the war in my country, Syria, I lost my husband and did not know anything about what could have happened to him. When the battles intensified, I took my children and went to my father, as he lived alone in Damascus because my mother was dead. We lived with him for about a year, and then the war broke out in Damascus as well. One day we woke up to the sound of guns, bullets, and planes. I took my children and we went with my father to take refuge in the shelters. We stayed like this for three days until we finally decided to get away from this area. We actually made our way on foot, until we approached a car that was in a traffic jam on the way to the border with Lebanon. We accosted them and found that they too were leaving Syria for refuge in Lebanon. With them we eventually reached the Lebanese border and once in Lebanon, a tent was secured for us to live in. So after witnessing so much death, we finally found safety.

Then, together with my children, who were not yet 10 years old, and my father, an old man, and we began to look and ask for someone who could help us with blankets or mattresses or anything, as we are powerless. Indeed some people helped us as much as they could, but my father died three months later. Now my children and I live in a tent that does not protect against the heat of the sun or the cold of winter.

What do you miss in your life?

I miss the warm, affectionate place that was my home. I miss the bond that helped me raise my children while my husband was with us. I am now the father, mother and everything. When my children ask me when my father will be coming back, I tell them that we will surely be reunited with him one day. I still have hope that their father will return to us and that we will all return to our warm home and our beautiful city.

What difficult situations have you faced during these ten years at the camp?

On a cold, windy day, while the wind was uprooting everything and the rain was falling heavily, our tent covers flew off and the rain wet our mattresses and covers. We spent one of the hardest nights and no one could help me with that because the camp I was staying in was only for orphans who had lost their father. We stayed like this all night until the next day when someone came to help us.  

Also, it is extremely difficult when one of my children falls ill. I have to find the right doctor in the village where we are staying, but sometimes we have to go outside the village to find a doctor who can help and prescribe the appropriate treatment for us.

What do you wish for in this life?

I hope to stay strong until my children grow up. I want to teach them to find their own way and I wish to change this situation we are in for the better.

  • This interview was conducted on 28.12.21
  • Diaries from Refugee Camps is a series that gives readers a glimpse inside the challenging life of refugees. Are you a refugee and would like to share your story inside this series? Please write to us. 

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Off with the head! Getting Rid of Phoney Justice

Welcome to the September issue of The Gordian.

Executing a human being and punishments like solitary confinement are as coldblooded and premeditated as murder and torture can get. They are not in self-defence, because the danger has passed. It is not justice, because a person can always outweigh their deeds, and they can change, given the chance. The theme of this series is still justice and in this issue, we are looking at it from different angles, including those phoney ones imposed on the guilty with little or no respect for their welfare and human right.

This issue offers the usual mix of politics, interviews and culture by UN-aligneders across the world, including Ruby Goldenberg, Carla Pietrobattista, Katharina Wüstnienhaus, Victoria Davila, Partho Chatterjee and Maya Bearyman, Cristina Mihailescu, Omar Alansari-Kreger, Atika Harba and Sonia Roopnarain.

The editors are Adrian Liberto and Ariana Yekrangi.

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