Tuesday

28th Mar 2017

Opinion

Letter to EU: 'If you don't want refugees, stop the war'

  • People waiting to be evacuated from eastern Aleppo, on 15 December. (Photo: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail)

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Wassim Omar. My family and I, and many other refugees, arrived on Chios island (Greece) on 20 March 2016. After we faced death many times in the Aegean Sea in the night, we arrived in the early morning at Chios and we thanked God that all of us were saved and we were very happy because we reached the first EU country.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

We arrived to freedom and democracy countries, but unfortunately the policemen told us that we arrived on the first day of an EU-Turkey deal, so we couldn't leave the island and we had to stay here. After they got our fingerprints we asked the UN and all organisations how long we were going to stay here.

They said they don’t know. During our stay in Vial camp from 20 to 30 March, there were many fights between peopler and with police, not because refugees were bad but because they felt they were in prison. They couldn't even get a breath.

We moved to Souda camp and it was really very "souda". Souda in Arabic means “black”. So from that day our life got more black and black. During our stay there, we protested many times and some friends and I held a hunger strike for 21 days in May. Many media came and we spoke and told them our claims which were our right to move to Athens and to take part in the [EU] relocation programme but in vain.

In fact, it took eight months until we got our papers to move to Athens. All of that happened to us just because our mistake was to come after 20 March. Finally, we got our papers to move to Athens on 14 October. I asked the UN to help me to find a place to stay in Athens. They said: "Athens is full. Go and manage yourself." So my family stayed sometimes in hotels and sometimes in homes of Greek friends.

My message to the EU commission and Council with all my respect:

We fled from countries which have wars to find a safe country and better education for our children. In Syria a person dies one time but, because of the [EU-Turkey} deal, we die hundreds of times a day. Because of the deal you asked people to seek asylum here in Greece or to go back to Turkey. That means it is not our choice. It is your choice. It is not a personal choice. It is a choice imposed on us.

One. It is a shame on all the world because they [EU states[ close their borders in front of refugees. If you don't want more refugees you should work to stop the war in Syria and other countries. Because whenever there is war, there are refugees.

Two. History will write what everyone did. Who killed people and who worked hard to keep people alive.

Three. EU countries, as all the world knows, talk about human rights and their concern for victims of war, so I hope these words are true, not just for the media.

Four. Political leaders should recognise that these are people, they are human, they have a family, they have future and dreams and they deserve to have chance to get it and live it. They aren't numbers.

Five. In the past, Syria welcomed and showed hospitality to people and we didn't call them refugees. We opened our houses, not just our border, to everyone who needed help. History witnessed that. Today all the world has closed its borders and its humanity in our face.

I hope all the world lives in love and peace one day.

Thanks very much,

Wassim Omar.

Wassim Omar is a 34-year old Syrian. He was an English teacher before fleeing the war with his wife and two young children

Aleppo envoy left gloomy by EU summit

A plea for EU help by an official from Aleppo, the Syrian city under attack by Syria and Russia, failed to prompt action on Thursday.

Magazine

Refugee crisis, the vain search for solidarity

The EU's migration policy in 2016 was marked by a record number of deaths at the Mediterranean and deep rifts among member states on how to handle asylum.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The Union under threat

The effect of Brexit will be much more profound on Northern Ireland than on Scotland. Some kind of border controls with Ireland seem inevitable.

News in Brief

  1. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  2. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  3. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal
  4. EU majority against GM crops, but not enough to block them
  5. Turkish referendum voting starts in Europe
  6. Le Pen says she lacks election funds
  7. UN dinner for Cyprus leaders to restart stalled peace talks
  8. Nato moves summit forward so US can attend

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans