Family forced to flee terror twice among thousands stranded in Greece

Published: 21 March 2016 16:09 CET

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

A baby boy in a blue knitted hat smiles up from his father’s arms. He is five months old, his name is Daniel and he has never seen his parents’ home town of Damascus. Long before he was born, his parents had to flee Syria. Now they are on the run from terror again.

Daniel’s father Kaniwar, 29, his 22-year old wife and 65-year old father had to escape violence and threats in Syria four years ago. After several years striving to build a life in neighbouring Iraq, conflict again forced the family to pack their bags and embark on another uncertain journey to safety.

They are among thousands of others heading into their fourth week stranded on Greece’s northern border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Days and nights are spent in a flimsy tent in the middle of a crowded muddy field. But despite the poor conditions and the humanitarian crisis unfolding around them, Kaniwar and his family are hoping their patience will pay off.

“This is the life of a refugee,” he said. “I don’t blame Europe or any individual country. Everyone is struggling, they all have their own problems. We can only be patient and hope for the best. As long as they do not force us back to the warzone we will be fine.”

Ready to work

An exterior decorator by profession, Kaniwar explains that his priority is safety for is family in a place that he could work. Both he and his wife also worked for various humanitarian organisations during their years in Iraq.

“I used to work as a logistician and my wife was the team leader of community health workers in Iraq,” he said. “We are educated – as most Syrians are – and we are both able to work to support ourselves. The only reason we are fleeing is because of the war.”

The current wait in Greece has not been easy. Daniel has been ill and is afraid of the darkness in the tent. But for now, all they can do is hope that their number will be called soon.  “We just have to be patient and wait for our turn,” Kaniwar said.