Refugees' own stories, in their own words

Fernande van Tets
Saturday 05 September 2015 10:50


Syrian refugee, Hamza, who fled Homs with her engineer husband, two daughters, aged 14 and 18, and son, aged eight, has described her family's four-year journey to Hungary.

Hamza said the family spent a year in Damascus before moving on to Lebanon and Turkey, where she said the people "hate Syrians".

In August they travelled to Greece in a rubber dinghy. "It was horrible, I can't believe that we arrived," she said.

The family hoped to reach Germany, where Hamza has relatives, but the Hungarian authorities would not allow them to go, she said.

Her parents and brothers remain in Syria – she said she "wished" they could be with her in Europe.


Nour Ammar travelled from Syria to Sweden to claim asylum. "Everything is hard for Syrian people," the 20-year-old said.

Nour and her mother fled Syria three years ago. Her father, who stayed behind, was killed. She and her mother eventually moved to exile in Turkey. But Nour wanted to start a new life away from the region. She aimed to reach Gothenburg, in Sweden, where her brother lives.

She paid smugglers for the 10-mile boat journey to the Greek island of Agathonisi and then travelled to Samos, then to Athens, and made her way overland to the border with Macedonia. During her trip, hotels turned Nour and her friends away. "We slept in the streets," she said. "No one respects Syrian people – it's like we're diseased or something."

She finally continued to Gothenburg, where she applied for asylum.


Hiba recently fled Syria with her daughter and disabled son, following the destruction of her home.

"Hospitals in Syria are being targeted by shells," she told Save the Children. "The one I took my son to for physiotherapy sessions is not operating anymore. Some were hit by shells. Others were untouched but the roads were too dangerous for us to travel to the hospitals anyway."

She said she felt "helpless" and when she looks at her son she wishes it were her in his position instead.

"This is very hard for me. Sometimes I cry, but I can't do anything," she said. "There is no place for us to go, no safe space to go to at all… Syria is our country and we want to go back there. I don't know who is right and who is wrong, but I know we civilians are paying the price."

Please note: All pictures are of refugees travelling from Hungary to Austria and Germany in the last day, but not the people being quoted.

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