Mohammed in his tent at Sindos camp.

Mohammed Thaer

Mohammed's wife just gave birth to a baby girl. But what should have been a joyous occasion has been a nightmare for the family. There were complications during the birth, his wife lost a lot of blood and underwent more than five hours of surgery that culminated in an emergency hysterectomy.

“It is very difficult to give her courage under these circumstances,” says Mohammed. Because of the complications, his wife and baby daughter will be allowed to stay at a hotel for ten days after they are released from hospital, but then they will have to return to their tent in Sindos.
His wife had two problem-free pregnancies and births before the last, so Mohammed is certain her complications stem from the poor health situation in the camp.

“Look at the toilets,” he says, referring to the row of port-a-johns outside the warehouse in which the tents are pitched. “And nobody can live on the food they give us here,” he adds.

Mohammed used to own his own business supplying pickles and olives to restaurants not only in Syria but also in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. He lived in Abu Dhabi for five years but was not allowed to bring his family into the country, which is why he eventually decided to take his family to Europe instead. In Idlib City, his hometown, his company and his home is gone now.
“The Russians destroyed everything,” he says. “There is nothing left.”

Nevertheless, Mohammed questions his decision to come to Europe.

“Sometimes I feel ashamed for what I did to my family,” he says. “I left Syria because I wanted a better life for my kids. This place is not what I chose. This is not life.”

He is angry because he doesn't understand why he and his fellow refugees are treated the way they are.

“We have nothing here,” he says. “I am a prisoner, like a criminal. I'm not free. They should have rejected us in the first place. Why did they give us papers and bring us here? If they didn't want us they should have told us.”

Mohammed seems completely demoralized.
“I have no information, no plan, no idea what will happen,” he says. “And they want people to be normal. Tell me how. How can people stay normal in this place?”

Mohammed serving tea to fellow refugee and translator Hussam.