Wasim Ghazi, a Syrian refugee in Spain

By Cristina Casabón

Syria’s civil war has forced 3m refugees to flee the country so far Wasim Ghazi is a political refugee who fled Syria two years ago. He is currently living in a refugee reception center of Madrid, waiting to get the political asylum. 

Can you describe the current situation in Syria?

In 2012 the Free Syrian Army was strong but nowadays is very weak, they keep losing many areas, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar a-Sham, ISIS and other islamists groups are getting stronger. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting specific groups but this is not enough, because it keeps rebels fighting but it can not really help them to defeat their enemies. In addition, the opposition as well as the international coalition are very mixed and it’s complicated to find a common agenda. 

The Idlib offensive, which took place last month between the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al-Nusra in this Northwest city of Syria, was another defeat for the FSA. Jabhat al-Nusra is getting The ISIS controls bastes amounts of lands, 3 or 4 millions of people are nowadays living under their new territory. This situation is the result of the inaction of the internacional community. 

As a Syrian refugee, I ask the international community to interfere and fight against Assad and ISIS. This coalition against ISIS isn’t bombing Assad, and the regime is beneficing from this, he’s now controlling more areas than before. At the same time, if the opposition is weak they can’t fight ISIS. 

This is a fight for the control of the territory, for strategic towns, and places. A few days ago, ISIS controlled the Deir ez-Zor military airport. It gave them the control of many of the nearby buildings of this airport… If you control important points you control the city.

How the revolution started?

The revolution against president Bashar al-Assad started in my city, Dara’a, the 18th of March of 2011. We never expected the revolution to start from this city, in fact Syrians hadn’t had a revolution for 40 years. A few weeks before the protest 10 or 12 children from my city were arrested for drawing graffiti, they had been watching the Arab uprising on TV and they were arrested for drawing something on the walls. People were very angry because these children were being tortured, the regime tried to disperse the protests in Dara’a, the neighbourhood of those children, but they couldn’t. A few weeks latter the protest spread to other cities. 

The regime was very aggressive, and killed thousands of peaceful protesters. For at least six months, people kept asking peacefully a change of the dictatorship. After this period, the opposition started to fight against the regime’s army. 

When did you realise your life was in danger?

I didn’t receive threats, but some of my friends were being arrested and I decided to leave the country very quickly; in four or five days I prepared my trip to Turkey. I checked first the lists, I realised my name wasn’t on the list, and I took the risk. When I passed through the checkpoints, I had to delete all my videos and photos from my laptop, because if they see that I am an activist they will arrest me. Everyone who supported the revolution is an enemy of the regime. We have emergency laws in Syria and everyone who supported the protests is an enemy of Assad.

After 6 months, when I was in Turkey, I had to renew my passport and I asked someone, inside Syria, to make me a new passport. He told me my name was already on the list and I couldn’t get a new passport. The regime kew I had been supporting another internal refugees from Homs. We used to buy food and pay they rents, and after all my family had to fled, after my house was bombed.

My house was on the opposition area, when the regime started bombing my area my family had to move to a safe area, under a government-controlled area. I lived one year and two months of the revolution in Syria, after that I lived in Turkey for two years, working as an English teacher, until I came to Spain. 

How did you ask for political asylum in Spain?

I am half Palestinian half Syrian. I payed around 5000 for my flight and my new Palestinian passport, after I realised I couldn’t take another Syrian password. The smuggler recommended me to miss my flight in Spain and ask for asylum. I was supposedly going from Turkey to Jordan (Turkey – Brasil – Spain – Jordan). I missed my flight in Barajas airport, in Madrid, I went to the police office and they decided to accept me as a refugee. 

Many of my Syrian friends are living in different European countries. They take many risks. Some of them take a boat from Egypt or Libya, they go to Italy, then they continue to Germany. This journey was a risk, but I had no choice, I had to do something to secure my future, to get legal papers. I was an English teacher in Turkey, where I lived two years. I saved money to pay for my trip to Spain.

Where do you live?

I live in a refugee center. There are about 50 refugees in this center, in Alcobendas. The majority of them are from Syria. There aren’t many refugees because event if you are accepted after the application process, Spain doesn’t support refugees financially, as they only give you 50 euros per month. They will give you a centre where you can stay for the first six months, after this period you have to take care of yourself. 

There are two kinds of refugees status. International protection and political refugee status. I applied for the second one, because I was an activist and I am originally Palestinian, so I don’t have a country. I was interrogated, I had to prove that I was helping other people and participating in political  protests in Syria, I had to give some names. Now I am waiting to get the political asylum. 

Are you helping other Syrians from Spain?

I still helping people who live in liberated areas. Syrians from my refugee center are building small initiatives and they have small organisations. Some Syrians can not move to safe areas, as they don’t have money to change their residencies and they need supplies, food and clothes. We get clothes from other organisations and we send these supplies to Syrian liberated areas and refugee camps in Lebanon or Jordan, for example.

In addition, I use my English skills to translate from Arab to English some applications for humanitarian organisations, asking for founds. I am doing this humanitarian aid individually, with other Syrian refugees from my center.

1 comentario
  1. Sergey
    Sergey Dice:

    Russia has planted itself at the center of both messes. It built the nuclear reactor in Iran with the silly pretense that Iran would only get its enriched uranium through them. Iran supposedly wouldn’t have the ability to enrich uranium on its own. And, now we see that Russia has no qualms with what is going on in Syria. Of course, we can all argue these are free countries, able to negotiate their own deals whether the UN likes it or not. We should all hear Bashar’s arguments as to the reasons for the ongoing violence, as lame as they appear to be. Russia obviously is giving him an ear, as it wants desperately to be seen as a power broker. Remember when it tried to step into the breach in the Israel-Palestine dispute by inviting the new Hamas government to Moscow.They have the silver-tongued Lavrov to try to iron out disputes in the UN, citing chapter and verse of the UN covenant to support Russia’s positions. Of course, he comes out much more polished and refined than have the oafs the US has had as UN ambassadors. The most notorious recent example being John Bolton.Yet, we see classical confrontational world diplomacy taking place, not much unlike the Cold War. But, rather than proxy wars we see proxy diplomacy, often aided with arms shipments and other forms of financial support to bolster our respective positions around the globe.But, I would say putting nuclear capabilities in the hands of the Iranian government, had to be one of the most stupid decisions the Russian government has made.

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