Middle East Eye reports: When Abu Saleh [a pseudonym] sits down to talk about why Syria’s unremitting civil war forced him to seek refuge in Yemen, he stops every few minutes to scroll through photos on his phone.
“See here,” he said, pointing to a snapshot of six young men, their grins and embrace of one another discernible even through the phone’s cracked screen. “All dead.” More photos follow. More loved ones lost to Syria’s spiraling violence.
Abu Saleh then returns to explain why Jordan is too expensive, in Turkey he doesn’t speak the language, the welcome for refugees in Egypt has grown painfully thin, uncertainty has long loomed in Iraq and when he briefly found himself in Lebanon, Hezbollah tried to recruit him.
Syria’s neighbouring countries – whose infrastructure and social fabric have been buckling under the strain of hosting the majority of the more than three million refugees that have fled Syria’s bloody civil war – did not seem like options for him. But neither did remaining in Syria.
The 25-year-old former soldier feared persecution after he fled Bashar al-Assad’s army when he received orders to fire at protests in early 2011 challenging the government’s rule. This was all before Syria came to be called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
Abu Saleh fled to Yemen two years ago to escape the fate of his friends in the photos.
Yemen’s low cost of living, ease of obtaining entry and relative stability at the time of his arrival offered Abu Saleh – like many of the Syrians who have found their way to the southern Gulf nation – a potentially ephemeral retreat from the bombs of his home country. [Continue reading…]