BEIRUT — Khaled spends his days glued to his phone. It is the only way the Syrian father in Belgium has ever spoken to his three-year-old daughter in Turkey. The two have never met.
In Germany, Alaa navigates her eighth year separated from her parents. As refugees in Lebanon, they have not settled down, still dreaming of reuniting with her and creating a home in Europe.
In Denmark, Nisrine has won a legal battle to remain in the country after it deemed Damascus safe for return, but is still fighting to bring her disabled daughter, Nadine, from Syria. She was 12 when she stayed behind. She is 20 now.
Since 2011, more than 6.6 million Syrians have fled war and persecution in their country. More than one million Syrians sought safety in Europe, where many hoped to bring their family members to join them later. But for some, increasingly restrictive family reunification rules stood in the way.
“Distance,” an upcoming podcast by Syria Direct, offers an intimate portrayal of the pain and rage of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters caught in a bureaucratic nightmare. Five families tell their stories, and how they have navigated years of separation after their family reunification requests were denied by countries such as Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.
How does life go on when a rejection letter from migration authorities breaks a family apart? What happens to those who are left behind?
This is the story of an unfinished wait and an unfinished fight. It is a story of families that fell through the cracks of European asylum systems but have not given up on their hopes to reunite and regain the normalcy of having a conversation in the kitchen over breakfast, or eating cake together on a birthday.
Arabic and English versions of the podcast’s five episodes will be released, starting on January 16, on Syria Direct’s website, as well as on SoundCloud, Spotify and Google Podcasts.
“Distance,” is the second season of Syria Direct’s podcast “Qayd.” It was produced by Alicia Medina and edited by Mateo Nelson and Ammar Hamou, with illustration by Rami Khoury and a soundtrack by Eli Ishac and Carol Abi Ghanem. This series was produced with financial support from the European Endowment for Democracy (EED). Syria Direct is solely responsible for its contents, which do not necessarily reflect the views of EED.