Refugees: ‘I speak English. I have a degree. I could be a good citizen’

Madj from Aleppo: If the Syrian government doesn't get you, Isis will.

”I would love to go to Ireland. I speak English. I have a degree in biology. I could be a good citizen for your country but your government won’t release information for Syrians. It takes so long to get all the papers for Ireland and we are desperate.

“If the Irish government tells us we can come, it’s our dream come true.”

Madj, from Aleppo, Syria, fled his home seven months ago after being called up for military service. He is waiting in Belgrade’s squalid makeshift camp, where thousands of people pass daily en route to Hungary where they hope trains or buses will take them to Austria or Germany.

“Most of the young people here are running from the army,” he says. “If the government doesn’t get you, Isis will, or the anti-government forces. You cannot imagine what we are running from. We want to work and study. We are normal people, we don’t want to be murdered or be forced into terrorist armies.”

The 27-year-old described the situation in Aleppo as “hell on earth” and said every day new armed groups are forming in Syria.

Refugees: ‘I speak English. I have a degree. I could be a good citizen’

Gnaa, aged 4. Her mother, too ill to travel, sent her from Aleppo with her uncle after her father was killed.

“Before it was just Assad against the people who wanted change,” he says. “Now we have Assad, Isis, people against Assad. Every day with each step a new army is popping up. It’s hell on earth for us. There are dead bodies everywhere.”

Madj introduces me to Gnaa, a four-year-old from Aleppo travelling with his group. Gnaa’s father was shot by Assad’s supporters and her mother was too weak to travel, so she sent Gnaa to Europe with her uncle. “She crossed the Mediterranean alone. She has only her uncle. Can you imagine her mother? Can you imagine sending your child across a sea where people die? She is so desperate for her child to live and her chances are so little in Syria, she is willing to risk this for her daughter to survive.”

Like Madj, Mohammed, 36, an economist from Damascus, said he would love to come to Ireland but feels the Government will not welcome him.

“I speak English. I don’t speak German or Swedish,” he says. “It’s my dream to go to Ireland, a country that speaks English. There are many people coming now but we are good people. We are scared, we have seen awful things. No human being should see that.”

Mohammed, afraid of being killed or captured and forced to fight, left his wife and daughter in Syria as the route was too dangerous . He is trying to get his wife to Turkey. “Every day I’m crying and worried. I’m trying to get my wife to Lebanon or Turkey because she cannot travel the way I did. We crossed in a boat through the Mediterranean and our boat sank. We spent five hours in the sea. The navy had to rescue us. I will not put my wife and daughter in the way of death. I don’t want them to face death, I want them to come to Europe in a safe way.”

Refugees: ‘I speak English. I have a degree. I could be a good citizen’

Mohammed, 36, from Damascus, says refugees would love to come to Ireland but fear it is out of reach.

Mohammed appealed to the Government to open up information for refugees.

“I hope the Irish government makes good decisions to help us,” he tells me. “There is so much death in our country. Now the situation in Syria is you have to kill or be killed. There are militias everywhere it is madness. We are not coming to Europe for money. We are good people, we are coming to Europe just to survive,”

Mohammed says that while he would love to go to Ireland, he feels it is completely out of his reach .

“We say among ourselves as refugees that our dream is to go to a country like Ireland but for now it is just that, a dream,” he says.

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