“We could have drowned at any time”

My name is Abdelnaser and I come from the countryside in Aleppo, Syria.

 I fled from Syria 2013 together with my entire family. We fled because of the unrest, from missiles and harassment.

 It’s not easy to leave your home country. But we had to. There´s a difference to leave a country when you choose to or if you are forced to do so. We were threatened with weapons and could die at any time.  No person can remain under those circumstances. I can’t describe my feelings, but I couldn’t find a solution to remain. 

We encountered many difficulties along the way before we reached the Turkish border. There were mines along the way, but we managed to avoid them. We stayed for a month in Turkey.

My closest family continued from Turkey, but most of my relatives are still there. I did’nt like Turkey, so I chose to go to Libya because there was work for me there. Syrians were not allowed to enter Libya. I first fled to Egypt and then I continued on illegal roads through the desert to Libya.

The flight from Egypt to Libya was worse than traveling from Syria to Turkey. We fled with a car through the desert and anyone can die on the road if the car tips over. I stayed in Libya for about 4 years. In Libya, I was threatened and beaten physically. The political situation became worse in the country. I tried to flee to Algeria or back to Turkey, but did not succeed. The only way to go further was through the Mediterranean. I fled with my heavely pregnant  wife and my son. I took the risk of traveling with my family through the ocean. I had heard that you could drown.

We fled by boat during the night. It would have been easier to travel during the day. Everything seems more scarry at night. I was afraid for my family and most afraid for my son who was 1.5 years old. We were out at sea for about 9 hours. The smugglers who were with us had weapons and some were drunk. They used very ugly words, which I don’t want to mention here. During these 9 hours we were very worried. Should we arrive or not?

After 9 hours we lost hope. We did’nt see any rescue boat. We could have drowned at any time. We lost hope and told each other that this is our last moment and hope that God will forgive us. After 45 minutes the helicopter came above us to see where we were and to report us to the rescue boats. After 1 hour they came and helped us. We felt safe when we got help. There were several boats in the middle of the ocean, not just us. They took us to Lampedusa in Italy. My wife was 9 months pregnant. I could have had a child out in the ocean.

In Italy they took care of us. They took us to a wellness center. Then they moved us to Sicily. I didn’t want to stay with my family in Italy, so we fled to Milan. It was very difficult to leave Italy. Especially as we were expecting a child. I had heard about a relief organization that helped refugees to move on. Sweden welcomed us. When we arrived in Sweden we encountered some difficulties like the language and we lived in a refugee resident outside the city. But life here is very good. Now I have been here for 5 months. I have started to learn new traditions and have new friends. I also met friends from my city Aleppo.

I have lost my future in my home country. I studied human rights for two years in Syria. Beside my studies I also I worked with plaster decorations.

I hope the EU can help refugees as much as possible. And not just refugees who are neighboring countries to Syria, but Syrians living in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and the Gulf countries that repress refugees. The oppression that occurred in Syria is not as great as what I met in Libya.

I have not mentioned other countries, where they don’t live well at all. I don’t want to mention only Syrians as there are other nationalities such as Palestinians and Iraqis. One can’t imagine how much oppression they have to stand.

A Million Stories Sweden: Nizar Keblawi, Nina Olsson, Sara Sarabi, Malin Gillberg, Daniel Björklund, Mats Nordström.

A Million Stories Sweden volunteers: Fariborz Ghadir, Mohamad Mohsin, Yazan Saad, Tarek Aloudallah, Dalia Saleem, Yara Ali, Ahmad Younes, Chaimae Hamri.

In association with



Dublin Core: Language: swe Subject: asylum, refugees, A Million Stories, Sweden