Refugee story Rena Effendi

A Syrian refugee family’s story

“In our home in Damascus, I lived with my wife, our children, my parents, siblings and their family,” begins Aamir, a 29-year-old, Stateless Palestinian that arrived in Bangkok nearly two years ago with his wife and two daughters.

“Before Ramadan 2012, the conflict in Syria became markedly worse. We heard gunfire and no one would go out onto the streets. My family and I stayed in our house for days because we were afraid. I cannot tell you the exact number of days. On the last day, we had no bread. We had nothing to eat.”

After days boarded up in their house, Aamir went out to get milk and diapers for his daughters.  At a checkpoint, the Freedom Army stopped him and tried to recruit him. He refused, which meant certain death if he were to be stopped again in the future. “The last words from them were: the next time we see you, either you take your gun and stand beside us or you find someone to take your body.”

Panicked, Aamir returned home, gathered his family and their belongings and traveled to Lebanon. In Beirut, Aamir and his family were able to obtain visas to come to Thailand.

“The greatest challenge is [being] in Thailand without a visa. This issue could easily put us in jail. I try as much as possible to avoid being on the streets or even going out regularly. The second challenge is the lack of financial support and the difficulties to find work. Until now it has not been easy to overcome these challenges.”

In late 2012, Aamir heard about Asylum Access Thailand and sought assistance with his asylum claim. AAT prepared Aamir’s first instance testimony and supporting legal brief to submit to the UNHCR, then helped him prepare for his Refugee Status Determination interview. Fortunately, both he and his family were granted refugee status.

As a recognized refugee, Aamir and his family can live more at ease in their new home. “Since I got my refugee status, I’ve been so released. Now the future is clear for my family, especially my kids.”