Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mid night escape ... Part 2

June 23,2014 , we arrived at Queen Alia international airport in Amman. We were exhausted after staying awake in the previous night as we had no place to sleep in waiting anxiously for our flight schedule.We went directly toward Ramtha / Irbid where our relative are living. We spent several days catching our breath and thinking what to do next ! we were concered with residency issue .
According to Jordan laws , visitor visa permits to stay in Jordan  for one month , after which a fine is imposed on every person which is about 2 $ per day . A renewable annual residency is approved if we have a deposit of 30000 $ in the bank which is not sensible for us as we left almost everything behind us . We took a rapid decision that we have to register in UNHCR office in Amman so as to get their protection in Jordan .

Early in the next morning we took our passports ,  and all other certificates which prove that we are from Mosul , and went directly to Amman. The system in UNHCR is that you have to take an appointment for the registration interview  before being registered as a refugee.

UNHCR office lies in Khalda / Amman , it is easy to reach as almost all the taxi drivers are familiar with it since the refugees are every where !
When we reached the office , the taxi driver dropped us near a road block and told us to walk through that narrow road to reach the main entrance. At the main getway , there were a firm security check , you should stand in line and wait your turn to enter the door  at which a police officer is standing to ask you a series of questions and then lead you where to go.We waited for our turn in a big lounge then the officer called our number , he was surprised by the fact that we came from Mosul “ you are lucky to flee from there ! “ he said . He gave us an interview appointment just the next day .
Next day , we went there again at dawn . This time , they took us to another lounge and gave us forms to fill it with informations including our story and the causes behind our escape . The hall was over crowded , full of people from different countries mainly from Syria and Iraq , and you can see their dispirited faces while listening eagerly to the speakers to hear their names for the interview . It make you feel sad seeing all that people there , oldmen , women and children who escaped from the war and presecution in their homeland and have no guilt but to be born there. After waiting for along time , they called our names for the interview , they asked as question about our informations we ‘d filled in the forms and then gave us a certificate to prove that we are registered in UNHCR but not yet as refugees . They gave as an appointment date for interview that determine our legitmacy to be “refugees” which was tentatively scheduled after three months. Fortunately , after a week we received a call from UNHCR office telling us that they have rescheduled the date and made it the next day ! This call gave us some hope that the processing of our case is fast and they are considering us as an urgent case ! .
This interview was quiet different , it was even in another building away from the main office , we waited for hours before the time of interview , the waiting hours passed in deathly quiet , the hall was semi empty with several families were sitting and waiting in silence. Then the employee called us and told us that we will be interviewed seperately . You will absolutely feel anxious to death when you see the officer taking you to a seperate room with a recorder in his hand to record your answers , you must be very sure from your answer and honest with every word that you would say. The room was almost empty with only two chairs and desk ! The officer started to ask series of detailed questions regarding our story and you have to answer clearly and without hesitation as it may affect their decicion , what scary moments they were !
After the interview , they asked us to wait for the decision . Six hours of anxitey passed , finally the officer came out and called us “ you are now refugees , you are now protected by UN “ he said and he told us that the next step is “Resettelment in another country “ , but nothing is guaranteed and we have to wait for their call. We are now “ refugees” , that word which means that you are homeless.
The disappointing thing that even if you have the status of refugee , they consider you as illegal recidense and you still have to pay the fine of 2$ per day and the UN only protect you against being kicked out .
Living as a refugee is a matter of sufferance , we are losing hope , we are prohibited to work and we may be fired if we try to find a job . we are almost without any rights. Two years have passed , and we are still waiting for resettlement , no one is giving us a clear answer about it , every time we call them we hear the same answer “ your case is under studying , wait for our call “ , and that phone is still silent for 2 years. We have no other choice but to wait for their mercy , no other country gives visa for refugees and we have lost every thing home !
Please pray for us , pray for the refugees who have no guilt but to be victims of the war.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mid night escape .... Part 1

It has been two years since Mosul occupation by ISIS . After 5 days of curfew and fighting , 30000 fighters of the iraqi military forces ran away leaving their guns and tanks to be seized by ISIS fighters after which the misery began in june 10 , 2016.
It was 2 A.M , we were frightened and didn’t know what to do , and where to go . ISIS fighters broke into a police station nearby us and burned it , so we made the decision of fleeing as fast as we can as the situation was getting worse and it was unsafe to stay home . We rode the car and pulled a way seeking a safe road to go through . The city was frightful , fire was every where , the streets were full of burned military humvees that the defeated army left behined . 

People were helpless and confused , all of them were seeking for safe place to run toward. We hardly struggled the highway that reach Kurdistan to the north of Mosul . After driving whole the night we hardly reached the checkpoint before Dohuk in the morning . The lines of cars waiting there were endless as there were security prudences and the checkpoint was closed and no one was allowed to pass . Waiting hours near that checkpoint was hard , we weren’t able to think and were shocked by the previous night events ,we were tired and miserable and we could do nothing but to wait for the mercy of the officer in the checkpoint . 

Finally they allowed families to get in but in condition that you left your car and walk . We left the car and walked toward Dohuk , fortunately we found someone who picked up and help us reaching Dohuk. The city is small and it is unable to lodge all that people who fled Mosul , the hotels were almost full and we kept looking for a place to sleep in until we found a small motel , they accepted to give us a small room in return for paying them a high price per night. Several days passed and we did nothing but to watch the news trying to know  what is happening in Mosul ,what are ISIS is planing for  and what is next ? .. Mean while we received a phone call from our supervisor in Al Baaj  health center that we were working in and told us that ISIS presided over the health center and one of their fighters called him and told him that they collect our informations including our adresses and phone numbers and send us a threat either to return to work to treat and attend their injured fighters or they will consider us as resistants and will kill or take the possession on our property in Mosul. We were shocked and frightened being wanted by them and the situation is getting more worse as the local government started to harass the people who entered Dohuk after june , 10 by the issues of sponsors and security checking and prohibited people from leaving their residences , it looked like a house arrest !.
As we have to pay for the motel , we realized that we will be out of pocket soon ! It is no longer possible to stay there , we needed a place that protect us , a place to feel more safe !

At last , we had no choice but to leave Iraq , we applied for visa to Jordan in a travel agency in Dohuk , we were lucky to get  approval as Jordan was inflexible regarding visa issues for Iraqi citizens.

To be contiued….