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Syrian refugee in Belgium: ‘If I do nothing bad, nothing bad will happen to me’

Turkish authorities send back Syrian refugees to war, says the Guardian. What are the other tensions between Turkey and Syria and how does it feel being a refugee? A story of Baraa Terkawi (23), a Syrian refugee living in Belgium.

Do you feel unpleased with the way people treat you as an immigrant in Belgium?

Baraa: Some people are really friendly and appreciate my efforts and the danger of coming to Belgium. Some of them start crying when they find out that I’m Syrian. On the other hand, there are people who treat me like a parasite that has no value and they tell me to go away and to leave Belgium.

Was it difficult to cross the border of Belgium due to the problems with fleeing across the Turkish border?

Baraa: It was so hard to cross the border, especially from Turkey to Greece but the most difficult one was from Hungary to Austria as Hungary wasn’t a good option for the immigration.

Syrian refugees are living in Turkey with the constant fear of arrest according to the media. Do you have this kind of problem in Belgium with the police or the government?

Baraa: No, not at all! I don’t have any problems with the police or the government in Belgium. If I do nothing bad, nothing bad will happen to me.

What were the reasons for escaping from Syria? Was the war the main reason?

Baraa: No, it’s not only because of the war. One of the reasons is that I’ve lost lots of goods and people I loved. It was so painful to live there with all of that sorrow.

Do you think that Turkey is actually deporting Syrians back to the war?

Baraa: It is happening now. They say that they need no immigrants, and they are sending them back to Syria. But first the refugees are imprisoned for a while.

Syria is a neighbor country of Turkey. What would you say about the relations between them?

Baraa: I have lived for a month in Turkey, and actually we were welcomed with my family. They were very friendly to us, but I can’t say what has changed nowadays. Syria and Turkey were perfect neighbors, but as we know, the situation has changed.

Is it easier to go to the other neighboring countries than to Turkey?

Baraa: Before the war, it was easy to go to neighboring countries and they were so friendly. But now they hate us. For instance, in Lebanon they don’t like anyone from Syria. So if we look at other possibilities, going to Iraq or Jordan, the first one is dangerous and Jordan wouldn’t let us in. So Turkey is the only choice.

Text: Ada Kostrubiec, Alevtina Samusseva