"We had to flee because of the war in Syria"

Bassel, 33, has fled Syria with his nephew and niece, aged 8 and 5 years. Their parents have stayed in Syria to take care of the grandmother, who is too weak and could not leave.
 
 

The family is from Doumar on the outskirts of Damascus, but because of the fighting in their country, they didn't dare let the children stay there. It was decided that the children's parents should stay and take care of the grandmother, since Bassel was best suited to take care of the children on the journey through Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea.

"We had a very good life in Syria, and I had a fine business as a lawyer specializing in international law, but we had to flee because of the war. That is the only reason. Before we had a wonderful life – but that is not possible, when bombs are falling everywhere. We have to think about the kids and we could not stand the thought that they could be hit by a bomb," said Bassel.

Phone as a flashlight

The journey to Greece has lasted a month. Bassel and the children spent two weeks on the border between Turkey and Syria before they finally managed to get through. Then they stayed two weeks in Izmir in Turkey before the smugglers let them get on board in the rubber boat.
 
"We were 40 people on the boat and many of them were children. As we approached the shore, the boat took in water and was sinking. It was night and dark, so we were very afraid, since we feared that no one could find us. Fortunately I remembered that my phone could be used as a flashlight, and therefore we were discovered and saved by the Greek coastguard," said Bassel.

His phone has been his most valuable property during the flight.

"I have recorded the entire trip on video on my phone - or at least all the times I dared filming what we saw. In addition, we also used it to constantly stay in touch with my brother and his wife; the children’s parents," says Bassel, who also insists that one of his companions films the interview with him.

Focus on children in Moria

After they were rescued by the coast guard, they were driven to Moria camp, where the Danish Refugee Council works.

"We arrived very early in the morning, but we had a really good experience in Moria. People stood ready to help and took very well care of us. It was obvious that they focused much on the kids having a good time," says Bassel.

More than 12 million people have been displaced by the war in Syria. People are fleeing the fighting - but Bassel does not have a specific destination in mind, although he has a dream.

"I really want to work at the International Court in The Hague one day, but it is very important for me to say that we are not here to take people's money. I want to work and contribute to society. And I hope very much that the war in Syria will be over soon. Otherwise we risk that it evolves into World War III. It is very important that the whole world knows this and is aware of this" says Bassel.

"We as Syrians just want peace, but there are many who interfere in the conflict and it can destroy everything. We'd like to be in Syria if there was peace, but when bombs are falling, we have no choice but to escape from there,” says Bassel.