Real refugees just want to go home


Caught between a civil war and Europe, which does not seem to want them, Syrian refugees in Lebanon are struggling to find a place to call home.

Among them are Asim and Zeinab, who have been married for 20 years and are the parents of two children. (Their names have been changed to protect their security.) Before the war, they owned land in their hometown of Talkalakh, and worked in construction and tending olive trees.

Now, they live in an informal tent settlement in northern Lebanon, and own nothing.

“We used to celebrate every occasion. We used to fast during Ramadan and buy clothes and toys for our children. But we stopped celebrating anything. We stopped fasting, because of bad living conditions and lack of income. We don’t feel joy any more,” Zeinab, 40, told Al Jazeera.

In May 2011, the Syrian army raided their hometown. With their two-month-old son, Fahim, and 13-year-old daughter, Rama, Zeinab and Asim fled over the al-Kabir River into Lebanon.

Asim and Zeinab are two of the more than one million Syrians who have registered as refugees in Lebanon since the Syrian civil war began. A total of 1.5 million Syrians are estimated to be living in Lebanon, including those who are not registered refugees.

Despite their growing frustration and depression, Asim and Zeinab have ruled out attempting to be resettled in Europe.

“We would not consider the option [of going to Europe]. I prefer to eat a piece of bread with salt here – close to my country, rather than die abroad, where no one knows me,” said Asim.

He walks every day to a nearby hill, from where he can see the roof of his home in Talkalakh. He hopes that eventually, the time will come when he can take his family back to Syria.

Nobody has ever really pointed this out:  that true refugees really like to go back once it is safe again.

Which makes all of those that are so keen not to live in their own country immediately suspicious.


– Al Jazeera


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  • Wheninrome

    Quite possibly this is where our assistance would achieve the best result, helping these people return to their own homes where they will regain what is most important to them.

  • contractor

    So sad, and a huge indictment on evil Putin for supporting the truly evil Assad, who it turns out has been teaming up tactically with ISIS so he can stay in power.