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MigrationOnline.czE-library › Ongoing crises inside and outside the country. Interview with a Syrian doctor and refugee

Ongoing crises inside and outside the country. Interview with a Syrian doctor and refugee

22. 4. 14
Source: migrationonline.cz
Dr. Mansour Al-Rajab is originally from the Syrian town of Homs, where he built his own clinic and worked as a doctor until the Syrian Civil War left his clinic destroyed and caused him to flee to the Czech Republic, his current country of residence.
Dr. Rajab, we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. Now I understand you fled from Syria due to the civil war. Can you tell me how everyday life was like before and after the military occupied your hometown?
The revolution started in March 2011, and there were demonstrations in Homs, my hometown, but the government forces shot these peaceful demonstrations from the beginning. As a doctor and owner of one of biggest hospitals in Homs, I had to treat the young people injured by the forces. Every day, my hospital treated about 50 cases until June 2012, when the government forces bombarded my hospital with tanks, and it was then that I realized I had to escape, and so I came to the Czech Republic, where I studied medicine in Charles University in the 1980s.

You seem to be settled pretty well here in the CR. Do you have desires to go back to Homs?
I'm very grateful that my Czech friends were so helpful and kind to me. Currently, I am working in a Czech hospital, and the collective is wonderful. But at the same time, home is still home, and I'm thinking every day about my people… my friends there in Syria. I cannot lose hope for them, and even though there seems to not be an end to the civil war, I am at least trying to help any way I can, from making appearances in human rights film festivals (when there are films about the Syrian Civil War) to working with Amnesty International to find refuge for the Syrians. Knowing that I can make a difference gives me the motivation to keep trying.

Do you consider there to be a Syrian “Diaspora” in the Czech Republic? There have been demonstrations here and there, but they have not received much media attention.
I think the Syrian activists in the Czech Republic have reserves, but you have to understand that most of them still have relatives in Syria, and they are afraid of government revenge. Syrians are also thankful for the non-demonstration methods of help from nonprofits like Amnesty International and the Organization for Aid to Refugees, both of which have started a campaign to provide shelter in the Czech Republic for at least 1000 Syrian refugees. Since my hometown Homs is in Syria, people in the Czech Republic sometimes ask me about the war. In general Czech people are interested, and the revolution in Syria has their sympathy.

How well do you think the Czech Republic is treating the Syrian refugee crisis?
The Czech Republic is doing well but could be better. According to a study by Amnesty International (AI), only 3% of all refugees from Syria found asylum in countries in the EU, so I’m glad AI is trying to push the campaign through to get the Czech Republic to accept 1000 Syrian refugees. At the same time, the problem is so big that the solution is difficult. The best approach is to stop killing in Syria and to help Syrian people have their own democratic government. Then there is no need to solve emigration to the Czech Republic or the EU at all.
Jennifer Lu
Currently a student at New York University Prague studying Media, Culture, and Communication. She has interest and experience working with humanitarian rights, and she hopes to work in an organization that deals with First Amendment Law after graduation.


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