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72

OPEC bulletin 10/17

Why did you have to flee?

In 2011 the revolution started. My friends and I founded

a group and demonstrated by singing songs of freedom.

We asked for the killing to stop. That’s how my name

was put on the blacklist. My friends and I were not able

to leave our houses anymore; we even had to give up

studying. The second reason is that I would otherwise

have had to join the armed forces. But I didn’t want to

fight. I hate violence.

Did you leave Syria alone? Where are your

relatives?

I left with my cousin Omar and my sister-in-law. They are

now in Germany and Sweden. My parents and one of my

elder brothers are still in Syria, as is one of my sisters.

I also have two brothers and a sister who live in Qatar,

and a brother who lives in Linz, Austria.

Could you describe your flight?

We started off in Izmir, Turkey. We stayed for three days

and then took a boat to the island of Samos in Greece.

For this, we had to pay ¤1,200 (approximately $1,400)

eachandwealmostdrowned. InSamos, wespentanother

three days waiting to be registered before moving on

to Macedonia. From there, we took the train to Austria,

passing throughCroatia andSlovenia.Thewhole trip cost

us about ¤2,500 (approximately $2,930) each. I took

only winter clothes, my camera and some documents.

We faced many challenges, mainly because of the lan-

guage. December 2015 was very cold; we were freezing

but couldn’t find anywhere to sleep. Food was almost

always bread and jam.

Why did you choose Austria?

I chose Austria because my brother was already in Linz

and I had read a lot about the country. Nature here is

just beautiful.

What was your first impression of Austria?

It was very difficult to communicate because I couldn’t

express myself. Everything was new and the circum-

stances in the campwere rather bad. But the peoplewere

nice, welcoming and helpful.

How is life here?

I have met many people and some of them have become

myfriends. I amaphotographer andhavealreadyheld two

exhibitions.Themostdifficultpartisthe languageand the

laws. If you are not granted asylum, you can’t work. The

onlythingyou cando iswait.Waitingandnotbeingable to

do something is horrible. I try to usemy time studying the

language and supporting friends, if they need help. I am

Samer Amin

Samer and other

refugees during their

dangerous journey.