When the 29-year-old Syrian Kurd twisted her knee, she had already trekked for 60 hours through the damp, dark forests of Poland, attempting to reach Germany.
It wasn’t Bushra’s first setback on her path.
Her travelling partner and dearest friend had collapsed earlier in a panic attack while they were pursued by Polish border officials. Her pal attempted to regain her breath by hiding in ditches and behind trees, but it was futile. They surrendered and were tossed back across the border into Belarus by the guards.
They swiftly returned on the same route, bedraggled and drenched. Bushra continued despite hurting her knee. She dragged her right foot after her through the rain and frigid weather of the woodlands for two more days. Finally, they arrived in a Polish settlement, where they boarded a car to cross the border into Germany, where she wants to live a free life.
“I put up with the excruciating discomfort.” “Sometimes the simplest thing is to run away from something,” Bushra remarked in Giessen, Germany, when she asked for protection as a refugee. “We don’t have a future in Syria.”
Bushra, who requested that her last name not be used for her own safety, is the new Syrian migrant’s face. Even though the 10-year civil war has ended and battle lines have been locked for years, more Syrians are fleeing their homes.
They are escaping the hardship of the war’s aftermath, not the horrors of the conflict, which brought hundreds of thousands to Europe in the great wave of 2015. They’ve given up hope for a better future at home, where they face extreme poverty, massive corruption, and crumbling infrastructure, as well as ongoing wars, government repression, and reprisal attacks by a variety of armed groups.
According to EU figures, more than 78,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in the European Union so far this year, a 70 percent increase over last year. Syrians, behind Afghans, are the most common nationality among the almost 500,000 asylum seekers so far this year.
In Syria, nine out of ten people live in poverty. Around 13 million people require humanitarian help, up 20% from the previous year. The government is unable to meet basic requirements, and roughly 7 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
The conflict has destroyed roads, telephones, hospitals, and schools, and expanding economic restrictions make rehabilitation hard.
The coronavirus outbreak exacerbated the war’s greatest economic crisis since it began in 2011. Syria’s currency is depreciating, and the minimum income barely covers the cost of five pounds of meat each month, assuming meat is even available. Crime and drug manufacturing are on the rise, while militias backed by foreign countries run smuggling rings and have complete control over entire villages and towns.
Although the numbers are significantly lower than in 2015, desperate Syrians are rushing to leave. Social media groups are committed to assisting people in their search for a solution. Users inquire about how to apply for work or scholarship visas. Others seek information on the most recent migratory routes, the costs of smugglers, and the risks of using false identities to leave Syria or enter other countries.
At the same time, Syria’s neighbors, who are dealing with their own economic woes, are clamoring for the refugees who have taken up residence on their country to be repatriated. Syrians fleeing Turkey or Lebanon, where they had been refugees for years, are among the latest entrants to the EU.
This summer, Belarus temporarily opened its border with Poland to refugees. As a result, the EU accuses Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of coordinating illegal migration in revenge for European sanctions against him.
Bushra was one of just a few thousand people who made it through Belarus, where 15 people died trying to complete the journey.
In late September, she flew from Irbil, Iraq, to Minsk.
It was the beginning of a perilous voyage. Bushra described how they lived for days on crackers and water, with six of them sleeping sitting up on a single dry mat. Her companion, who was trembling from the cold, fractured a tooth.
They had to hide in a ditch after the woodland escapade when a police patrol with sniffing dogs came to examine their automobile. Bushra removed her head scarf while riding along the highway to avoid being stopped at checkpoints. She arrived at Giessen on October 12th.
“I astonished myself with how well I handled everything,” Bushra stated.
She said that it had all been worthwhile.
“When you lose hope, you take a route that is much riskier than the one you started on.”
For years, Bushra’s life in Syria had been in turmoil. When the conflict broke out in 2011 and anti-government protests spread across the city, she was attending university in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour. She promptly transferred to a university in the north. The Islamic State quickly took control of Deir el-Zour and the remainder of eastern Syria.
Bushra and her parents resided in the Kurdish-controlled northeast, far from IS control, but they were still afraid of bloodshed. For two years, she didn’t leave the house.
She eventually got work with an international assistance organization. She’d been putting money down for a trip out of Syria ever since.
The conflict wreaked havoc on Syria’s oil-rich northeast, which had already been neglected for years. Farmers’ livelihoods were destroyed by the drought. Incomes were slashed as a result of the currency depreciation. Bushra’s father, who works for the government, now earns $15 a month, down from $100 before the start of the conflict.
Furthermore, the location was not safe. Despite the fact that IS terrorists were destroyed in 2019, sleeper cells continue to attack Kurdish-led security and civil administration.
This summer, eight kidnappings were recorded in a town near her.
Bushra was threatened after she disclosed a corruption case involving strong local leaders, putting her life in jeopardy. She wouldn’t say anything because her family is still in Syria.
The harassment accelerated her preparations to depart and persuaded her parents, who were concerned about a single lady traveling alone.
The removal of US soldiers from Afghanistan last summer alarmed Bushra, who feared that the US might also remove its 900 troops from Syria’s Kurdish-controlled northeast. The troops collaborate with local forces to fight terrorism, and their presence deters competing groups.
She was concerned that if they left, Turkey, which views the Kurdish-led forces in Syria as terrorists, would begin a military assault against them. Syrian government soldiers would also move in, putting Bushra in jeopardy because international assistance workers who aren’t registered in Damascus are considered traitors.
“If I stay in Syria, security will chase me for the rest of my life,” she added.
Her path to freedom begins with obtaining asylum and residence in Germany.
She intends to study political science in order to comprehend the news, which she has avoided since the conflict began in order to avoid seeing scenes of the atrocities she has previously witnessed. She wishes to be able to travel freely. “I’m done with limitations,” she said.
She stated that returning to Syria is impossible.
Bushra said she would keep trying if she does not receive her documents in Germany.
“I’ll go where I can live if I can’t go to where I want to go.”