When is it time to flee?

Sunday, June 21, 2015 - 15:37

As World Refugee Day is marked on the 20th of June, we are facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War 2 where nearly four million people have fled from their home in Syria, to safer neighboring countries. Amongst these four million people, is Hadeel (not her real name), who today, is living in Baqa'a refugee camp in Jordan.

Hadeel opens the door to the house that has become the home of she and her family. ‘UNHCR’ (the United Nations Refugee Agency) is written on the carpet that leads you into a simple living room. Mattresses line the floor of the room where Hadeel and her family spend most of their time accompanied by a fan and a TV. The fan is a necessary tool to tolerate the summer heat, and the TV, which is set on the Syrian TV channel Al Hadath, is the contact line to the family's home country.

Hadeel succeeded fleeing from Syria to Jordan with her husband and five out of their six children two and a half years ago.

"The situation in Syria was horrible. There were soldiers and bombs everywhere, and we didn't even have any bread to eat," Hadeel said.

But it was one episode in particular that led the family to the decision of starting a new life in Jordan.

"When my son was shot while he was driving his car on the street, I knew that it was time for us to leave Syria. I couldn’t deal with the constant stress any longer and I feared that something would happen to my children."

From Syria to Jordan

Hadeel's oldest son was taken care of at a hospital after the shooting and had an operation which saved his life. After that Hadeel said goodbye to the family's home in Daraa in Syria, and together with her five other children and her husband she began the journey to Jordan

The family succeeded in getting in to Jordan, but today Hadeel is still missing her life in Syria before the war started.

"My husband had a restaurant, but when the war started, the restaurant was closed down. Today the restaurant has been demolished by bombs," she told.

In Jordan, life is completely different from the family. Syrian refugees are unable to work, so daily life is a struggle between getting boredom and getting food on the table.

The family found shelter in Baqa'a camp, an old Palestinian refugee camp, established in 1968. People in the camp used to live in tents, but over the years simple houses started to appear, and today there are no tents left in Baqa'a. The huge Palestinian population living in the Baqa'a camp have now got company from Syrian refugees such as Hadeel and her family. Jordan is now host to more than 625.000 registered Syrian refugees in addition to the two million registered Palestinian refugees who already have found shelter in the country.

A different life

The family is grateful for the way the Palestinian community have welcomed them and that they have found a house to rent in Jordan. But it still hurts when Hadeel is thinking of the home and life she left in Syria. But most of all it hurts to think about the family members who are still inside and whose future is unsecure.

"We just finished building our new house, two months before the war started and we have got the most prettiest ceramic and a beautiful house. During the war all the windows in one of the rooms in the house were destroyed when a bomb hit a house in our neighborhood. My children were sitting in the room next to it, and at that point I thought to myself  'if we stay in Syria we will all die'. Today several of my relatives and neighbors have lost their lives," Hadeel explained.

Without being able to work, life is tough for Hadeel and her family. She explained,

"I receive 10 JD (14 US dollars) from the community center each month as transportation money, but I am walking instead of using transportation so I can save the 10 JD."

Hadeel is spending time in the camp's community centers where she is taking courses in mathematics and computing to keep herself going and to be able to teach her kids about the subjects. Hadeel knows that the war in Syria is still affecting her kids.

"They are afraid of everything and every kind of noise can make them feel unsafe. When they hear the sound of an airplane, they suddenly start to cry," she said.

 The war is not only affecting the kids in the family. Hadeel is often trying to reach her oldest son and his wife and other family members who are still living in Syria, but there is rarely any connection. Now the ongoing TV is the main connection to the home country.