December 11, 2023

Seeking freedom from the refugee camps

by Hasnaa Omar


You might wonder about those Syrian refugees drowning in the sea as they try to reach European countries in a rubber boat carrying many families, women and children. Why take this risk running away from the Arabic countries that have given them refuge from war?


For many, this escape is obligatory due to the violence and abuse they encounter in these Arab countries – physical, verbal, psychological, sexual and neglect in nature. Where is the freedom?

When a parent is beaten in front of their children purely because they have refugee status, in the belief that they have taken what should have been for the natives of the country. The reason they sought asylum is forgotten.

Or when a family is expelled from their home because they do not have money to rent, even if this house is a tent on wasteland, and the owner wants the money immediately.


When a Syrian refugee works for a whole day to receive a wage that is insufficient to meet the needs of his family, and is threatened with expulsion only because he tried to get his wage from the employer.


When a Syrian child is killed by the authorities because he works as a shoe shine boy. He works with dignity to help his family and is deprived of the most basic rights of an education and being able to play.

When a young girl is turned into a commercial commodity – forced into marriage and used to satisfy sexual desire, and then returned to her family without reason.

Many pregnant women have died because they do not have enough money to enter hospital to give birth. Some newborn babies also perish because of a lack of available health care.


Refugee camp in Jordan, 2016. Photography by Hasnaa Omar.


There are incidents when a student at school also becomes a cleaner and is beaten and insulted by his colleagues, just because he is a Syrian refugee. Where are the children’s rights?

Where are the organizations that pretend to be established to help, but in fact use children and capitalize on their suffering to get money and external aid? When pictures of children become promotional material everywhere without their knowledge, where has humanity gone?


Refugee camp in Jordan, 2016. Photography by Hasnaa Omar.


A refugee is not allowed to move within the country where he resides, especially in tourist places. Is he not a human being and has the right to escape from the pressures of life?

In some camps, male Syrian detainees are forced to return to Syria without adequate justification for their return. For the families left behind, the men have disappeared without a trace.

Officials of these camps are trading girls and women by forcing them to marry those who support the camp, or men from other Arab countries.

The humiliation, violence, rape and murder experienced by Syrian refugees forces some to commit suicide. It is because of these injustices that Syrians seek safety in European countries that treat them as human beings.

A refugee wants to be treated as a citizen with rights and duties, and as someone who is allowed to move freely from one place to another. They want to learn the local language and have the right to work. They want their children to grow up in a place where they are free to learn and play. This is freedom.

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