Syrian refugees: 'We don't care about Russian withdrawal'

Syrian refugees: 'We don't care about Russian withdrawal'
Syrian refugees in the Calais jungle camp and the UK have said recent developments in Syria are 'meaningless' and that they have no plans to return home.
3 min read
26 March, 2016
Thousands of refugees fleeing poverty and war have gathered in Calais in grim conditions [Getty]
As the world has keenly looked on at the partial truce in war-torn Syria and the significant pull-out of Russian troops, many political analysts have given us their two cents, but how do Syrian refugees in Europe feel about these developments?

With peace talks aimed at resolving the five-year conflict heading into the final stretch in Geneva and a real possibility of a political breakthrough, could this mean an end to the refugee crisis?

"There's nothing left for me in Syria. If I go back I'll die of starvation, I no longer care about what's going on there. This Russian withdrawal means nothing to me," Abu Shukri, a resident of the Calais refugee camp known as "The Jungle", told The New Arab by telephone.

"My house was destroyed by a rocket. My two brothers have been killed as well as my wife's two brothers. One of my kids has been physically disabled," said the father-of-seven originally from the rebel stronghold of Daraa in southwestern Syria.

Abu Shukri and his family fled their homeland to Lebanon, where they settled in the Arsal refugee camp.

His time there, however, was cut short after he was forced to flee once again after coming under threat from supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Lebanon.

      Refugees think the UK has better job opportunities [Getty]  
He left Lebanon with his 18-year-old son and headed to Europe, ending up in the Jungle camp outside the French port city of Calais with hopes of making it into the UK.

"My health is falling to pieces. I have a slipped disc in my neck, colon disease and haemorrhoids to name some problems. My son has gone partially deaf from an ear infection because the filthy conditions and smoke from the constant fires,"

"The French police have beaten me with batons and treated me shamefully every time I have encountered them. All my attempts to get into the UK on lorries have failed," Abu Shukri said.

He said the rest of his family are still in Lebanon, where they receive "measly" humanitarian aid from aid groups. He hopes that one day he will make it into the UK and be able to be reunited with his family.

"Please don't turn deaf ears to my story. Make the world hear my voice. We need help!" Abu Shukri said out of desperation.

The New Arab also spoke to a 33-year-old Syrian refugee, who made it into the UK by stowing away in the back of a lorry travelling through the Calais Channel Tunnel, about the recent developments in Syria.

"The Russian withdrawal is completely wrapped up in politics and handing out the spoils of war in my country, where so many places have been turned into rubble," Majid [not his real name] said.

"Most Syrians who have been made homeless and undertaken perilous trips to safe lands have lost the people closest to them and will not return no matter what happens. At least not anytime soon," he added.

Majid has been living in an asylum centre in the London Borough of Croydon for four months and is waiting for a decision on whether he will be granted asylum in the UK.

"When we finally got out of the lorry and made it into the UK, we started dancing and singing in the street like madmen. We asked a passerby: Where are we?"

"We didn't recognise the name of the place we were so we asked: What country are we in? The guy thought we were drunk until we explained our situation. I'm happy here and I hope I'll be allowed to stay," Majid said smiling.