Safwat’s Journey – A Syrian Refugee on his way to Germany

500 refugees, forgotten about between Macedonia and Serbia Photo By Safwat
500 refugees, forgotten about between Macedonia and Serbia
Photo By Safwat

Safwat’s Journey – A Syrian Refugee on his way to Germany

I met Safwat at the Syrian Family Refugee Camp on Lesvos called Kara Tepe…  He spoke excellent English and helped me during a busy time giving out sleeping bags and blankets one night, helping with translations.  He felt he had to return the favour to me for helping him with information about his ferry trip…  I told him there was no need, but he insisted.

The next day during the afternoon back at camp I bumped into him again and we sat, drank Chi and have a great conversation for over an hour…  He told me about his journey and what his life was like before the war in Syria.

Sanitation has totally gone out the window, there is no official camp here, just a farmers field of sludge and mud Photo by Safwat
Sanitation has totally gone out the window, there is no official camp here, just a farmers field of sludge and mud
Photo by Safwat

He was a successful business man, owning two businesses, but everything he owned was blown up by Syrian/Russian bombing raids of his home city of Aleppo.  So he set out for Europe.  Since meeting him and his short stay at Kara Tepe, we’ve become friends and stayed in touch via facebook.

Lately he’s been sending me updates of his journey…  He spent over 3weeks stuck on the Greek/Macedonia border, which with his messages to me via facebook and photos he was sending me, things were very desperate for him and others on the border.  Everyone was getting sick and one message sent by Safwat via voice message really worried me.  He said he wished he was back in Syria so he could just die and be killed by bombs.

It was shortly after that I lost contact with him, his facebook went down, but last week he was able to make contact again sending me messages that he had made it through the Greek/Macedonia border and all the way up to the Serbian border, but the journey had been getting worse all the way along.  Where he is now is beyond inhumane, in the worse conditions you can think of with very poor sanitation, flooded tents and a muddy field that cows would get stuck in.

3rd March messages…

“How can I go back if I want to go back? No one will accept me…  I wish I could go back, Im not kidding, to go back to Syria and die!  Someone kill me I’m really not kidding”

“I’m sure about one thing, they want you to wish to die, that’s what I found”

Floods just outside one of the tents Photo by Safwat
Floods just outside one of the tents
Photo by Safwat

Until the 17th March I had lost contact, Safwat made contact back on the 17th March, it was great to hear his voice but, conditions had not got any better for him or the other refugees around him.

“Hello, how are you mate? Sorry I was out of touch, my facebook was closed.  Missing you my friend mate, hope you are ok, do you have any news? We crossed the border and made it into Macedonia, but we are stuck here on the Macedonia/Serbia Border.  The border is closed.  I will tell you my situation…  We are in Displace”.

“This new document from Macedonia – the Serbian border is closed; we are stuck in a valley, not in a refugee camp.  I will send you some photos that will show you our situation.  We have been here for 11day’s, we stopped for one day without anything, no shelter under the rain.  It is very cold here and we have been forgotten.  No one knows about our situation, because everyone are talking about Lesvos and Greece, I’m sorry for them too, but our situation is very more bad, I wish I wish I could go back to Kara Tepe, but we can’t as we have documents from the Macedonian Government it said that we are not allowed to go back, it has stamps that say I must exit Macedonia after 3days.  So, I mean I crossed the border legal, not illegal from Greece, I was the last wave maybe when we crossed the borders from Greece, no one else could get though after us.  We tried to go to Serbia, but the Serbian police surrounded us and said we cannot go and when we tried to go back to the camp, the Macedonian Army stopped us.”.

I’m trying to send information about us; I’m trying to send information about us to all my friends so they can get word out about us, please help spread the word, no news agencies are here, no CNN, no BBC, there is no one here to report about our situation.  We are just here in the valley, yesterday we got some help from an organisation, they brought tents with them, they brought us some food too, but for two days we had nothing, sleeping in a field.  A lot of people sick here now.  We are around 500 people, about 100 child, 150 women maybe”.

“It is really cold here, there is snow close by on the mountain, Its really cold, not like Greece, Greece was warm.  I was in the hospital 5days before”.

18th March messages…

Just want to ask a question… Will they send the refugees back to Turkey? Will all the refugees go back to Turkey? Is that correct? Or a mistake?  I don’t know what Im hearing, do you have any information you can help me?”.

20th March message…

Any more news, I hope to see you again, I want the world to hear what is happening here in Macedonia, still no news agencies…

“People have stopped bringing food, I send these photos to show our situation.  Please tell everyone please…  The Macedonian Army is taking our food! I don’t have anyone, just you, please send someone, please tell people, please.”

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