I will never understand why they sent my children away

Ahmad, 37 years old, Hama, Syria

I studied pharmacy at a university in Ukraine, where I met the woman who would become my wife and the mother of my children, and after I ended my studies I travelled back with her to Syria, where our first child, Omar, was born in 2008.

I used my education to establish two pharmacies, where my working hours were often from 8 in the morning to late in the evening: I was my own boss and was content with my life and my family.    But there was a darker side to life, even before the war. Every month the secret police of the regime came to me and I had to pay them 100 dollars: Their threats were never direct but indirect, and so the secret police made me understand that something bad could happen, if I did not pay them.

When Assad became president, he did everything to create conflicts between the different ethnic groups and in this manner one could say that he consolidated his own power by dividing the people, who could have formed a strong opposition. And so when the war broke out, I wanted to help everybody who came to my pharmacies in need of medical equipment: I did not ask who they were or what they were doing, I just wanted to be like a doctor whose mission it is to save peoples´ lives.

But not before long, the police came and began to ask me questions about my whereabouts. And     as I was interrogated, I realized that there was a real risk that the police would force me into the Syrian army and it lead to my decision to flee.

I had already sent my wife and two children to Denmark, and so I knew that was my destination as I arranged the boat trip from Turkey and later arrived at the Greek island, where some volunteers, who were incredible nice, helped me buy the ticket so I could continue my journey on the ferry to Athens and from there through the Balkans.

On my journey, I would always try to be in a large group of refugees, because I thought it was safer, and while we passed through Hungary we actually experienced that some children disappeared   from our group: It could be because of all the stress and confusion, but there were rumours circulating that other children had been kidnapped from their groups.

Long before I reached Denmark, though, I knew that my wife and I were going to get a divorce, so my motivation to continue on the train from Germany was carried by my love for my children and an overwhelming desire to see them again: If it had not been for them I could have gone to another country, because the situation with my wife was so complicated and so painful that seeing her let alone living with her at the asylum centre felt almost unbearable.

I ended up at a asylum centre in Brovst in Denmark with my children and my ex-wife and the situation was indeed very challenging, and it did not get better as we moved to a different centre. I was trying to get custody of our two children, because the oldest one, Omar, was growing slowly and we had concerns that he might have a tumour. As he was going through medical examinations and I was arguing why it would be reasonable for me to keep him and his sister with me, in 2016 the Danish authorities made the decision to send both of my children to the Crimean Peninsula with my ex-wife, because that was where she wanted to live.

I will never understand why they sent my children away, but I cannot do anything about it other than wait for Omar to come back, because I have applied for a family reunification with him, as he more than ever needs medical assistance and more screenings here in Denmark.

Recently, I have been informed that some think that it in a near future would be safe to go back to Syria, but I definitely do not agree, because I know that the people who are against Assad will be punished either in prison or with death, and in Syria prison often leads to death.

Even before the war broke out we had the shabbeha, who would knock on peoples´ doors at night and threaten then, beat them up, make them disappear, and even sometimes rape the women. The Shabbeha is a form of mafia and it has always been used to intimidate and terrorize everybody who do not agree or act accordingly to the regime.

I now fear for the people who have fled to Idlib, because for each day it seems more and more real that Assad together with the Russians will target what is considered to be the last resistance.

Dublin Core: Language: Language will appear here Subject: a million stories, denmark, syria, refugee, pharmaceut,