With the Syrian Civil war and the consequential refugee situation saturating political and social discourse, it has become easy to see the crisis in terms of statistics. Many News outlets have become comfortable with terms such as ‘swarms’, ‘thousands’ and other terms which group many refugees under a depersonalised headline or subject them to click –bait taglines.
Yet the individuals making the dangerous and life changing journey have their own stories and experiences of the situation. Sometimes to understand what is occurring hundreds of kilometres away, a simple discussion is often the most enlightening and informative way to get a clear perspective on Syria and the socio-political situation in Europe.
RUST sat down and had a chat with a lady who has made the journey from a war torn Syria to the little country of Denmark. The aforementioned lady wishes to remain anonymous, so we’ll be using a pseudonym.
Nice to meet you, let’s get started! What is your name, how old are you, where are you from and where do live now?
Hej! My name is Sara and I come from Hama in Syria. I’m 28 years old and married to Nazim. He is also Syrian and we live together in Bogense.
When did you first arrive in Denmark and who did you come with?
I flew by myself from Istanbul Turkey to Billund airport in July 2015, after I received my visa from the Danish embassy in Ankara. I’ve been living in Denmark ever since then. I left Syria to be reunited with my fiancé in Denmark.
What were the reasons for you leaving Syria?
As I mentioned my fiancé was already living in Denmark, but the situation in Syria had become too difficult. It had got to the point where you could get yourself killed by a sniper or the random shelling of a mortar and living requirements became so hard to find food, water and electricity which is why me and hundreds of thousands had to flee.
How was your life in Syria, and what did you do before leaving?
In Syria I was living in the capital city of Damascus in an very old neighbourhood, called the ”Old City” founded in the 3rd Millennium B.C. I graduated from the Faculty of arts in English translation. Afterwards I worked for a telecommunications company as a customer service for three years.
How has the situation changed in Syria in the last 5 years?
In the beginning of the last decade, poverty started to become a more serious issue in the remote areas, which led to social class differences. As the Arab spring began, most of the Syrians were eager to gain dignity, freedom of speech and social justice and a huge peaceful protests started all over the country. Unfortunately, faced with brutal oppression it led to an armed revolution and more ethnic and religious extremism. As we know a country with a civil uprising is a very fertile environment for the emergence of horrific policies and this is a reason we witnessed the emergence of the Islamic state.
How did you travel from Syria to Denmark?
I flew to Istanbul from Damascus via Lebanon, a country which has a serious problem with Syrian refugees. I only had 12 hours in Lebanon to change flights, because recently the Lebanese government changed some conditions to reduce fleeing Syrians.
How has your experience in Denmark been so far, and what are the biggest cultural differences?
I’m fascinated by the social system and how the government really cares about the citizens and their living conditions and of course the peaceful environment. I see a big differences between the two cultures I like how Danish people respect the laws and care about their country, it is very noticeable to a person coming from a country with an uprising and a civil war. But, there are also some disadvantages, such as the Danish society is a more individual for example. You would very rarely see an old woman living by herself in Syria, but it seems more common here.
What has been your favourite and least favourite thing about Denmark since being here?
My favourite thing about Denmark would be riding my bicycle, everyone seems to have a lot of respect for cyclist and it almost seems like a national sport! And my least favourite thing is adapting to the very changeable weather conditions, it’s nowhere near as sunny as Syria!
Do you personally feel that Denmark and other European countries are doing enough to help refugees from Syria?
I think Denmark and most of the European countries are handling the refugee situation very well. I have to say that even if there is some restrictions for accepting refugees they are still giving them a new for a new life and offering them a new beginning with many more doors open to a happy future.
Would you like to return to Syria if or when the situation improves?
I would definitely go back to Syria when the situation becomes safer. As thankful as I am to Denmark for providing safety and support, Syria is still my home.
Rust would like to say a huge thank you to Sara, and wish her all the best in Denmark, and any future endeavours!
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