Interviewed and Edited By: Leena Zahra and Inomusa Ndlovu
"I became a refugee hoping to live a better life but we are laughed at/mocked at. I have not found humanity yet in the EU.There is no nation coordinated effort/support for refugees, no safety; we do not have basic livelihood needs."
In our latest “Following the Diaspora” feature, we asked Aman* whose name was changed for confidentiality purposes, questions about himself and what he would like the world to know about his journey. Who is Aman?* Aman* is a courageous 23-year-old from Gaza, Palestine now seeking safety in Greece.
What is the story you would like to tell? How was your journey?
I Left Gaza, Palestine for Greece. It took 7 days to reach Greece. I spent 1 day in Turkey, now in Chios for 7 months.
I was excited, couldn’t wait to arrive in Greece. I used a dinghy (blow up boat), the only way to Greece is by sea. No other way. I travelled with over 9 friends. The boat had 39 people in it from different cities, countries (Syria, Palestine) and there were kids on the boat. The smuggler helped for about 20 meters, kept a distance whenever he spotted Turkish soldiers, but then soon abandoned.
I was not detained in a jail in Turkey like what happened with many others. NATO (EU) border guards tried to return us to Turkey 11:30pm at night; at 1am we got to Greece. They walked with us for 50 meters until we arrived in Greece and then let go. After arriving at Chios Island, we went to the police department located there. We did not know if it was Greek police or the UN.
What has life been like in Greece?
After arriving in Greece, I wished to go back as the conditions in Greece were bad. We were not the first refugees, they were already many refugees from other countries. We had to prepare papers; I had papers. When I got to the camp I was surprised at how awful the conditions were. I took an interview to get the Red Card [asylum identification] in January but I was not granted. I was scheduled for another interview for the Red Card on the 31st of March. They told me “We have to take extra precautions now, so no interview. ”Why now? Why with me?"
Camp conditions are very bad, after staying there for 2 months I wanted to go to Athens but I couldn’t go until I got my ID. I have been looking for another place to sleep for approximately 2 months. At the camp there are no cooked meals, no work, and no schools.
If you give someone something good, of course he will take it but if you give someone something bad, he will refuse. I left Gaza but this is a dark place. Greece has been the hardest for me. There is no security, no safety, no basic life. When I came to Greece,I thought there would be safety.
I became a refugee hoping to live a better life but we are laughed at/mocked at. I have not found humanity yet in the EU.There is no nation coordinated effort/support for refugees, no safety; we do not have basic livelihood needs.
When we tried to get water, Greeks got mad; “we fill up first” one woman yelled; “water not for you, only for Greeks” she continued. We can't talk with them (language barrier). We are treated very badly while waiting in line to get water.
What is our right as a refugee? We have heard before that the EU is responsible for the refugee “problem,” the situation we are living in right now in the Greek Islands (is very bad). Where is this union? Or is it only Greece to judge the situation? Can the EU interfere with her land to see what is going on? Where is the solution?Only Greece is the only one to do the projects for the refugees?
*For context Aman’s* older brother had a similar interview in Germany, 2014. A significant reason he would like to stay is so he can be reunited with his brother. His older brother has been in Germany for a few years now and was able to go to college, but could not finish. While in Palestine, Aman* finished high school, registered at Al-Aqsa University to pursue a Bachelor of Accounting but also could not finish.
What do you want people to know about refugees?
[Two Words]: Salam, Aman (Peace, Safety)
I left Gaza because it is very poor, no work, no future, no one knows what is going to happen, all 40 km is closed, we have no mobility, we are kept inside. I don’t want to get involved in politics, I [just] want to live peacefully.
The EU does not tell the truth, they tricked us, they said as soon as you arrive in Greece you will receive protection; but I have not seen this at all. How come the EU did not push Greece to solve the problem? EU has power or not? Who is responsible for the refugee situation? To help?
How do you feel about how refugees are shown in the media?
"I understand people are worried about their land; I respect Greece, they worry about their country and safety but I do not understand why some people are more important than others."
Why are all refugees judged the same? Not everyone is the same; the EU says all people are
equal and have rights. In Gaza there was occupation, I thought when I got to Greece I would get better protection and work.
What do you want people to know about you or your background?
Refugees are here for positive reasons, they are here to work, to educate, to help cities grow. We did not come with negative intentions, not to destroy but we are not allowed to do anything, nor the right to move.
I’m not against Greece, they want to protect their land. But we are not the problem. We need to push the people with power so we can safely find asylum elsewhere in the EU and not the camps.
I still have a lot to do. I want to finish school, find work. I’m only 23 years old.
What is your hope for the future?
I hope that people do not stay away from my home country. I can’t stay in Gaza because there is no peace, no future even political, economic and social factors are broken.
We come (to Greece) with energy, we want to work and succeed in the future but can’t find
anything, no work, no education. Thank you Madi for all your help, asking for nothing in return.
"Thanking you all people in Greece. You are the only people who let us have some hope. Maybe we can have a better future with your help, without asking anything in return; You let us feel like we are one family; Let us feel there is humanity and in humans."