Refugees return to Daraa after recent rebel gains


April 21, 2015

Significant rebel gains over the past month in the southern province of Daraa have prompted many Syrians living in the Jordanian refugee camp of Zaatari to consider returning home.

On Saturday, local rebel organization Sunni Youth Group called for refugees and displaced Syrians who left Busra a-Sham to return to the city in Daraa after opposition forces won control of it in the end of March.

“The security situation has improved, as have the services of water, electricity and health,” said the spokesperson of the town’s local media office who is a member of the rebel group.

The opportunity to return to Syria while the rebels control the city is enough reason to go, says Abu Khaled, the pseudonym of a 35 year-old former government employee from Busra a-Sham, currently residing in Zaatari camp with his wife and four children.

“There is no better place for an individual to live than in his home country,”

he tells Syria Direct’s Mohammed al-Haj Ali.

Q: Do you think your life will be better in Syria?

Absolutely. There is no better place for an individual to live than in his home country, even if life there is hard and many basics necessities aren’t available. At least nobody can call me a refugee and no one from the country hosting me can insult me.

 Civilians clean up damage from recent fighting in Busra a-Sham. Photo courtesy of Iman al-Hariri.

Q: How are you going to secure a livelihood there? Do you have a job?

I currently don’t have a job for when I return home, but I am willing to do anything to ensure the lives of my children. It’s better than being in the land of refugees.

I could work in a shop or work in construction, as these are the jobs currently available in the liberated areas. I can’t go back to being a government employee with the Syrian government because I learned from a colleague that I was fired three months after I left Syria.  

Q: Why have you chosen to return to Syria now?

There are many reasons why I considered returning to Syria but the main reason is the liberation of my city by the FSA and the expulsion of the Syrian regime from it. When the Syrian regime controlled my city, we were under constant threat of arrest. The situation was unsafe because of the continuous clashes between the regime and the opposition.

In addition, life in the camp is very difficult, and although we are comfortable, living in one’s homeland is much better even if life is difficult there.

Q: Are you aware that the regime currently bombs Busra a-Sham now that rebels control it?

Yes, I am well-aware. There was bombing before we left Syria, so we are basically accustomed to it and we have experience with it. We know where to hide during the bombardment and we also know the typical times the bombing happens. 

Q: Do you think that you and your family are safe in the areas controlled by the FSA and Jabhat a-Nusra?

I don’t want to say it will be totally safe, but it will certainly be safer than when the regime forces controlled the city. Regime forces would steal and plunder in front of everyone without any fear or restraint. This happened to houses which residents had vacated and also occurred in houses assaulted by regime forces.

As far as the FSA and Jabhat a-Nusra, since the beginning of the revolution we’ve heard very little about problems between civilians and fighters in Daraa, and these minor problems are nothing compared to the actions of the regime.

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