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Syrian doctor, 34 years old, from Deir Atiyah, Syria

Part 1​

"I am 34 years old and I am a General Doctor. I studied medicine at the University of Kalamoon. For two years I worked for a public hospital in a diverse Syrian city. When the war started, the city was divided into two parts. The first one was controlled by the Kurdish militia and the second one by the government. According to a new law, which was introduced in 2015, all the men over the age of 28 are required to serve military duty in Syria. I didn’t want to join the army, so I sold my car and I fled to Turkey. If I were recruited I would have been dead or become a murderer."

"In Turkey I stayed only for 15 days. I tried twice to cross the borders, both were unsuccessful. I succeeded on my third attempt. We were 15 men, 5 women and 10 children less than 10 years old. We were supposed to walk across the border into Greece but at the last minute the smugglers put us in an inflatable boat without wearing lifejackets. We arrived in Alexandroupoli after two hours. From there the Greek authorities put us in jail for three days and then they sent us to the Reception and Identification Center at Fylakio, Evros. There the UN told us that we must apply for asylum in Greece. We asked them about the benefits of an asylum seeker, because we didn’t know anything about our rights. They informed us that if we will not claim asylum we will be repatriated back to Syria or be sent to Turkey. From Fylakio, the Greek authorities sent us to Drama refugee camp. There we were only 5 Syrians and the rest were from Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria and other countries."

"I have never been to jail in my life until this happened. I thought that Europe was different from my country..."

Part 2

"I stayed in Drama refugee camp for 2 months. It is not a prison, but it is a closed camp. There the main problem was that they have never informed us about our future. The only thing that they told us was “Wait”. “Wait, wait, wait”… Why do I have to wait? After, in a different camp up north of Athens, Ritsona, the situation is totally different. It is a 5 stars refugee camp. I came here on 26th January. I have been staying in a container, with no running water and toilet. The main problem from me is that I am not doing anything here. I am only eating, speaking and sleeping. I want to learn Greek and apply for asylum in Greece. I want to stay here and complete my studies in medicine, and help people. I want to find a job and make a family."

"Back in Syria I wanted to be a plastic surgeon, now I am thinking to be a gynecologist. At the moment I am working as a volunteer with a medical NGO on a project about the quality use of medicines in our refugee community. I can do better than that. Medical NGOs are not operating during the weekends and after 17:00 till 10:00 every day. Why can’t I help instead? I know, I am a General Doctor, but still I can provide first aid. I only have my stethoscope and a blood glucose meter given to me by a medical organization. I cannot do anything with these two devices."

"All the members of my family are educated. My mother is a lawyer and my father used to have a company. I had a life back in Syria. I had my job, my house, my car. I have never asked anyone for anything. I paid for what I had with money I have worked for. But now I cannot buy food by myself, I cannot travel by myself. It is a hard thing to be a refugee. I believe that the Greek government must change its policy and give us the opportunity to work. The benefits will be big not only for us but for the government as well. Here we cannot do anything. At some point I feel free, but this is not freedom. I am only eating and sleeping. I am like an animal. This is a life of an animal!"

Photo & Story: I AM YOU.

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