The Syrian Refugees and their impact on EU – I
by Waiel Awwad on 01 Oct 2016 1 Comment

On a regular Sunday morning, I decided to call my cousin, Magda, in my hometown Salamiyeh, Hama. During our conversion, like a homesick fellow, I asked her about our common friends and what the town looks like these days. To my dismay, she responded with sadness in her voice: “Waiel… there are no young men left in the town... I barely see them in the street. They are fighting the terrorist groups or they fled to Europe. Those who have managed to survive the horrors of the journey have made it to their destinations, but not with ease. But for the latter end, there are those who are still making the harrowing journey across the unforgiving sea. Waiel, you cannot image how they trying to flee; they are stuffed like sardines in those small boats, with howling children and despairing mothers. The only witness to their agony is the Mediterranean Sea.


ISIS has made Raqqa city known to the world ever since they declared the city as their headquarters. Due to the closeness, Salamiyeh is under threat from ISIS and is constantly under repeated onslaught on the Eastern side of the town. The last straw for the youngsters to flee was when the massacre was committed 25 km east of Salamiyeh in a small peaceful village known as Al- Maboji, April 2015. Kids were slaughtered like sheep, young girls’ heads decapitated, women and elderly burned alive or shot dead. No one was spared, age was not a barrier, nor was gender, everyone was a target, even a frail 85-year-old woman. Bloodstains everywhere, walls stained with blood writings and slogans of the terrorists were stamped across the walls. They owed this terror to ISIS/Daesh the terrorist organization. “48 civilians” (40 martyrs in a massacre perpetrated by (IS) in Salamiyeh countryside) mostly children, women and the elderly, were massacred; 68 were injured, and many others were abducted.


Global media did not highlight this event, but it was enough to have an impact on the Syrian inhabitants of nearby villages and towns. Social media caught on and created the hash tag #salamieyslaughteredinsilence (Salamiyeh slaughtered in Silence), which described the horrors of the attack, gave eyewitness narrations and shed light of the atrocities committed. But Facebook was quick to shut down the page, because it was all too gruesome for viewers!


On the Western side of Salamiyeh, the story is the same; it is under constant attacks from other terrorist organizations like Al Nusra Front. The Al Nusra Front, which is an Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group, has raided small towns, Al Kafat and Sheikh Hilal villages, where more than 70 civilians were killed in cold blood, to spread terror and make the war in Syria look like a sectarian in nature.


The objectives of ethnic cleansing and communal riots are achieved, resulting in people forced to flee to safe areas under government control. The war on Syria drives millions of people out of their houses, leaving half the population to be internally or externally displaced. Syria is a heavy paying the price for this proxy war. The price? The blood of the Syrian people.


Syria for Dummies


Syria is situated in a strategic geopolitical region. It is the meeting point between East and West since ancient times. In fact, Palmyra city, the capital of Queen Zenobia’s Empire, flourished during the silk route trade.


The Syrian calamity happened a century ago, during the Turkish occupation of Belad Al-Sham. The Ottomans were forcing Syrians to join the Turkish army. Exodus of Syrians took place into Latin America where now the number of Syrian expats is equal to the Syrian population prior to the crisis 2011, which is 24 million.


During the French occupation (mandate), Iskenderun province, on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, now considered a large district of Turkey’s Hatay province, was gifted by occupying France to Turkey as a token for its role in World War I against all international norms, which prohibit an occupier from giving away any territory of the occupied land. Till date, Paris is withholding the White Paper on the forged referendum to allow Ankara to annex the pride of Christianity: Iskenderun (Antioch and Alexandretta).


Syria gained its independence in 1946 from the French occupation. Thereafter, Syria struggled to rebuild her own destiny from the ravages of war. In March 1949, CIA intervened, toppled the newly democratically elected President Shukri Al Quwatly, and replaced him with President Husni Al-Zaim. “Until 1955, US intervened in Syria five times and toppled governments to complete Saudi-Israel ambitions and satisfy American desires” (Hashmi).


Syria witnessed democratic elections and military coups until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. When late president, Hafez Al Assad, took over, Syria witnessed a period of tranquility and progress. Education and health care were free, until date, in spite of all odds. On top of that, the government subsidized commodities. If children between the ages of 6 to 11 years did not attend school, both parents would go to jail.


According to the biography of Moshe Dayan, the Israel defense minister, Israel provoked Syria in 1967 to go into war so that Israel can occupy Golan because it is rich in oil and water. More than 40% of Israel water is from Golan and since 2009 Murdoch Oil Company is exploring oil and gas against international law because by international law, Golan is Syrian territory and under Israeli occupation.


Syria was host to many refugees throughout history: Thousands of Circassians fleeing Russia made new homes in Syria. The Greeks during the war with Turkey, Armenians escaping the genocide by Turkey, Palestinians after Israeli occupation in 1948 and 1967, Iraqis (over 2.5 million) took shelter in Syria after the US occupation of Iraq, and Lebanese during the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006. 


Now, Syrians are the largest number of refugees in the world because of this human-made disaster. The Arab governments share the major responsibility for the mess and constructive anarchy created in the region. They are responsible for the division and for executing the plot to disintegrate Syria and Iraq.


The Syrian government spent decades on education and human development. This will be advantageous for Europe. Migrants will not have difficulty in obtaining jobs, especially in Germany, which publically stated that it needed immigrants for its economy and elderly society. Many refugees will tell you that they are searching for a better future for themselves and their families, and will work hard to achieve that.


Syria Today


Life inside Syria today is another tale. Once a country of beauty, culture and harmony, it has now become a killing field. There are people dying every day in different ways. Bombings, being trapped under debris, targetted  by snipers, mines, summary executions by armed groups, abductions, tortures, suicidal blasts, to name a few. Under the territories occupied by ISIS/Daesh, it looks like life under the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Even the clothes are Afghani style. Children are forced to learn from Wahhabi textbooks, which are still taught in Saudi Arabia. Girls and boys are segregated. If someone violates their ‘Sharia law’, the family members of the accused are forced to witness the beheading of their beloved ones in public, regardless of their age. Sometimes a member of the family conducts the heinous crime.


Girls above the age of 14 forced into slavery, marriage to foreign mercenaries and raped repeatedly. Others are forced to live in misery and obey orders. Every country is testing new weaponry, new methods of extermination of the Syrian population, heritage and civilization. The tales from fleeing immigrants give similar versions about the war and crimes committed against what was once a peaceful nation for decades, in the most turbulent region in the world, the Middle East.


We are living in an era of uncertainty and chaos, of anarchy and constructive chaos. Previously weapons were manufactured to defend nations in wartime, now weapons are manufactured to create war; so is the situation in Middle East where arms sales are witnessing a boom for the last two decades and wars are emerging in every State and between States.


Syria faced a harsh drought for years and this led people to migrate to urban areas searching for better opportunities and jobs. As a result, this created demographic changes and a rise of overcrowding, poor infrastructure, unemployment and crime. Few felt that migration to other countries was a better option.


With the onset of war on Syria, which is the main cause of forced influx of Syrians, hopes were shattered with prolongation of war. The tragedy of forced displacement is beyond human imagination. Necessity is a tragedy. War is a tragedy. Hunger, denying food and medicine, pain, suffering, siege and holding civilians to ransom and as human shields is a tragedy by the true meaning of the word. It is a never-ending saga of daily killings, threats and shelling. With the ill-treatment in neighboring countries and difficult living conditions, this led to exploitation. Currently, thousands of Syrian kids are out of school and proper education.


(To be continued…)

The author is a veteran Syrian journalist; he appears regularly on Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV

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