A client affected by the Covid-19 pandemic has shared his experience with the agency who are supporting him. Thank you to Tukaj Smo and our client for sharing this with us.
I am very sad. I left Syria five years ago. I ran from a war. My family stayed behind. Afraid of the journey with a boat from Turkey to Greece I did not want to take them with me. I had heard of too many who had drowned. So I went on my own. If I survived the journey, got an asylum in Europe, my wife and children could come safely. Family reunification, a journey by plane. As I left home I believed we would be together again in few months. If only I did not die. And I did not die in the boat. I got to Europe.
Yet my story unfolded differently. I applied for asylum in Slovenia, where at first I felt well. It was not easy, to live among foreign people for the first time in my life and to sleep away from my wife. But people were kind and I met many good friends who took me as one of their own. However, it took three years of uncertainty, whether I would be allowed to stay and I had to fight for my asylum status also in court. In the end I finally got a residency permit – based on subsidiary protection.
At last I was able to request for a family reunification. It was another long procedure, lasting one more year. Expensive as well, so I could barely make ends meet and pay for everything needed so my wife and daughters, who are still in Syria, could arrive.
After five years and numerous bureaucratic complications it finally seemed I would live to meet my family again. The plane tickets were issued for the 25th March 2020.
But then came corona. The airport was shut 10 days before my family’s arrival. At first I hoped the closure would be temporary but soon it was clear it would last a while. My family could not come. My world fell apart.
After five years of waiting I must continue to wait on. And I have no clue when the restrictions will be eased. To what date will we be able to change the plane tickets? Will I manage to again get the permission for a family reunification because this one has now expired?
I have been sitting in my room. I see only black. I am sad all the time, I can not be with other people. I live as if I am dead. I do not want to go to my friends because I do not want them to see me this way and I do not want to make them feel sad seeing me as I am. Plus, there is quarantine. I am alone all the time. I cannot sleep. If I fall asleep I dream of my family. I worry because they are still in Syria. They are not safe.
It is also practical questions that are killing me. What if I die before they come? I am no longer young, I have already become a grandpa and I am sick. If I survive, what if we end up living in poverty? Subsidiary protection is different from the refugee status. Also in financial terms. How will we survive?
Prior to my family’s planned arrival I had found an apartment, where we could live together. It is difficult to find an apartment in Ljubljana if you are a refugee with a family. But I found it. However, since my family did not come I did not move in because the expenses were too high just for me. This is another worry. Will the apartment still be there or will I have to find a new one? I do not even know when they will come. What if airports remain closed for several more months? What if there are new complications with the permits for my family to arrive?
I led a good life in Syria. We lacked nothing. But in the last five years I feel as if the whole world has turned against me. I sometimes feel as if corona has come to Earth only to cross my plans.
I now fight a war with God every night. God, do you not know what your deeds cause? One man can eat a sheep yet the other man goes hungry. I ask him endless questions. There are no answers. I think he is playing jokes.