My country is in revolution. The city Homs was in danger. The government had started killing people there. So fifteen of my friends and I began helping them. The government only found out about me. We did not help them with weapons. We gave them clothes, milk for their children, things like that.
But if the government would catch me, they would kill me. They would torture me. It was very scary. I had to run away as soon as possible.
I lived near the Syrian border with Turkey. I went to Turkey and found a smuggler there. This was in December 2011. So, you pay the smuggler and they find a country to take you to. Any country in Europe was okay for me at that point. He said that he had a fake British passport that would work. I didn’t have any other option.
All the Middle-Eastern countries bordering Syria do not have opportunities or security of livelihood. Turkey doesn’t. Iraq doesn’t. Jordan doesn’t. Lebanon doesn’t. Seriously. They are very poor economically. They can’t help their own citizens. What will they do for me? You can see on Youtube in many videos how refugees live in camps. It’s dangerous. It’s unbelievable! If you try to look for a job anywhere – say it’s £100 per day, they will give you only £20. Because they know you’re Syrian. You’re desperate and this is not your country.
Even if you have money, you can’t get established. Some of my friends went to Turkey. They opened a shop after living there for a while.
Their Turkish competitors stole everything, beat them up and kicked them out. Because of competition.
There’s 2 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. It’s too much. It’s a problem. So, they start fighting with each other, killing each other. This is why Syrians don’t want to go to Middle Eastern countries. These countries can’t help themselves because of their economic situation.
I travelled to the UK with my smuggler. He did everything. When we arrived, he showed his passport at passport control, and left with my fake passport as well. When I talked to passport control, I told them I don’t have a passport, I’m a refugee. That helped me. One of my friends had come to the UK with a fake passport too. He didn’t try to pass control with it. He submitted it to them.
He said, “Look this is a fake passport, I just used it to get here. I am a refugee. You know the situation in Syria. I don’t have an option.” They put him in prison for a year. One year!
Since then, he hasn’t gotten any support, any help. He doesn’t have any documents. He doesn’t have anything. Every week he has to go sign to show he is present. Like he is a terrorist. Why? He didn’t do anything. He just came here as a refugee. All because he told them he has a fake passport. Now, if you’ve been in prison, you are a criminal. So, how will he find a job for himself? How will he find anything? He can’t.
In other European countries – whether you have a fake passport or anything else – they help you. They help refugees. UK doesn’t help. At all. There are many refugees in prison, right now. Right now! At this very moment. From different countries. I talked to Green Party and some other political parties about it. It’s not right. You know they are fleeing war. We’ll be using fake passports, we’ll use anything, just to be safe.
The first day I arrived here, they told me to get a job. Any job. I was at the job centre straight away. I couldn’t even say ‘hello’. I didn’t know English at all. How can you tell me to find a job if I can’t speak at all?
They told me to work as a cleaner. I studied for seven years at university. I am an engineer of oil and gas extraction.
I studied in Ukraine. I got my degree. I was working in Syria as an engineer for a year or more. Everything was superb.
Every time I went to the job centre, they would start shouting at me to get a job. They made a CV for me and applied to only cleaning jobs. I’m not saying it’s a bad job. It’s just not my job. I found an engineering job in Saudi Arabia. I went to the Home Office and asked if I can work there and come back every couple of months. If I have to pay tax, I will pay tax. I will pay everything. They said no, it’s not allowed.
I can’t leave the UK and move to Saudi Arabia. Because I wouldn’t have documents. Syrian passport is meaningless now. There’s no one working with a Syrian passport. Without documents, I can only work in Saudi Arabia for three to six months. After that, they will kick me out. I talked to people at the job centre about transferring my degree.
I don’t mind if I have to go to university again. After that, it would be easy to find an engineering job. But they said no.
There’s no opportunity here at all.
After all this time, how is my English still not good? In other European countries, nobody asks you to work the first year. Second year, they integrate people and teach them the language. After that, you can easily find a job. Most of my friends who were doctors in Syria, are now working in hospitals in Germany. So, it’s great. Here it’s not. That is why I regret coming to the UK.
As told by Anonymous to Suryatapa Mukherjee.