Syrian Refugees: We Don’t Want Resettlement, We Want to Go Home
Nuzha and Ali Alhamud fled Syria two years ago with only seven of their eight children. Their eldest is 19 – she chose to stay in Syria with her husband when the rest of the family decided it was better to leave. “Many of our relatives are still in Syria,” says Nuzha. “We can rarely reach them on the phone because the signal is not so good in Homs, and they have no internet with them.”
With little sign of emotion, almost numb, the mother tells of the grandson her daughter gave birth to a few months before in Homs. He passed away, shortly after birth. Increasing attacks on primary health clinics and hospitals have placed Syrians in a difficult situation, particularly pregnant mothers, seeking consultation and assistance in childbirth.
“It was very difficult for her to reach a hospital. But she did,” says Nuzha who has not been able to speak to her, but heard the news through others. Such is the life for thousands of refugee families, separated by war, with siblings, parents, relatives fleeing to other countries, or remaining in Syria, moving between towns to remain safe and avoid warring factions.
After first fleeing Homs, where they home was reduced to ruins, Ali and Nuzha took their seven children to a nearby village where they thought they could avoid the regular air strikes hitting Homs. “But the bombing was too close and growing closer. We spent all of our time in the shelter,” says Nuzha quietly, her children seated around her, some of them listening carefully while others share a stuffed animal.
From there we ran with nothing, traveling in many different cars, from one place to the next. The road was so dangerous - two of our relatives were killed on the road just behind us. Many relatives decided the road was too dangerous and so they stayed in Homs."
In Jordan, Ali is unable to work due to his poor health, but work permits in Jordan are also difficult to acquire. CARE has provided the family with emergency cash assistance of $183, (130 JOD) to help cover expenses such as food, medicine, and rent.
"Being a refugee is very difficult, really. It's very, very hard,” Nuzha says, her eyes staring at the pavement in the tiny courtyard in front of the small space they rent. “Even if I had everything here, I would prefer to live in a tent at home in Syria. I feel a stranger in this country. We don’t want to resettle anywhere. We want to go home.”
“Our children have lost four years of school because of this war,” she says looking at her daughter, Iman.
“I’m in grade four now, but I deserve to be in grade seven,” says Iman, now 13-years. She explains that Arabic is her favorite class and has plans to be a doctor. “She wants to help people. She’s a generous girl,” Nuzha says smiling.
Frustrated by circumstances, their urge to return is strong, but the mother acknowledges it is impossible at this time. Nuzha says it’s much too dangerous, but one day, she hopes.
"I don't know why, but when we were fleeing the house, my husband grabbed his old passport. It's from twenty years ago. It's expired. What good would it do? But he brought it."