Feeling safe and the definition of safety in a specific place and time, is a very tricky topic when in it comes to the refugees’ subject. Many people think that safety in Syria means the end of war or the end of a direct life-threating situation. Many governments think that they have the right to judge if Syria is safe or not based on their own perspective that they obtain from data. We at SACD believe that the refugees and displaced people are the only ones that can determine how safe their environment is. SACD is conducting a series of interviews with IDPs inside Syria to try and truly reflect their feelings on safety and security in Syria. We want to show their side of the stories as humans who have feelings, dreams, and ambitions.
What we learned from these interviews is that the feeling of safety is very variable from one person to another, and what makes a person feels secure is not only the absence of a direct threat to his life, but many other aspects such as having a life perspective, hopes to grow and become productive, being connected to family and beloved ones, and having financial stabilities. Of course, in Syria all these aspects are missing with the absence of a fair governing system.
Q: Where are you initially from in Syria?
A: Wajdi Al-Jassem from Deir ez-Zor city
Q: Describe your life before the war?
A: Before the war, I was a newly married person who had been married for about a year and a half. I dreamed of having children and living a decent life and had many ambitions destroyed by the unstable security situation in Syria at that time.
Q: When did you leave, and why did you leave your home?
A: I was displaced at the end of September 2012 after intensifying missile bombardment and the beginning of airstrikes on neighborhoods. We were the last to leave the Al-Jubaila neighborhood.
Q: Where do you live now and how did you get there?
A: I currently live in the city of Idlib. We arrived here four years ago, after a journey of displacement from the city of Qamishli to Albukamal, and after the bombing of Albukamal intensified in a hysterical manner.
Q: How would you describe your living conditions?
A: Good, because of God’s mercy. But it is difficult to get a house in Idlib after the rents got higher and after the recent displacement of a large number of people from the southern countryside of Idlib.
There is an increase in prices after the deterioration of the Turkish and the Syrian currency before that, and the expenditure increases every day.
Q: What are your sources of income, and how do you see your opportunities as they are now?
A: I find it difficult to get an appropriate wage for the work. I am working on temporary contracts with an organization in the health sector. My situation is very unstable in terms of the place and work, but thanks to Allah, we try to keep optimistic to raise our spirits.
Q: Do you feel safe in your current residence?
A: Feeling safe is dependent on more than one aspect. We fear sudden bombing by the regime. We fear the deterioration of life quality with the decline of the Turkish currency. And we also fear of leaving the house by the demand of the house owner.
Q: How would you describe the current security situation? What are the primary sources of threat?
A: The one who follows the news feels tired and anxious, and who looks away feels calm somewhat. Thefts are spread all over the liberated areas. There are many crimes committed including murder and kidnapping of children, men, and women. However, the main source of the threat is the regime’s bombing or invasion attempts to these areas.
Q: Do you think of going back home any time soon? And why?
A: Of course, the idea of returning is an obsession. Hardly a day passes without thinking about it. But the with current difficulties it is very challenging to return back to our homes. One day if these difficulties are gone, the idea of returning will certainly be essential. The difficult security situation in return and the spread of corruption, injustice, persecution, prosecution and arrest prevent return.
Q: Have you ever thought about leaving the country and why?
A: I thought about that and tried, but I could not.
I tried hard in the last attacks on Idlib, when there was instability after the displacement of many people from other areas. I had the idea of leaving the country, especially as the city was in difficult circumstances with my elderly parents and the health conditions for them at that time.
Q: How do you see the future of Syria and its people, especially the youth category?
A: I am very optimistic, thanks to Allah. I see the stability of the situation in Syria, as well as the stability of life for the Syrians, and the ruin of all those who failed and betrayed the people of Syria; what goes around comes around. I see this through raising of awareness among the youth and the high energies that foretell a better future and the destruction of all kinds of corruption that exist for the privacy of the land of the Levant and the privacy of the people of Levant.
Cover photo: The bombing targeted a popular market in the center of Ariha in Idlib countryside, which contributed to the high number of casualties October 2021 (AFP)