Emad's story

“In Syria I have taken an education. I am well educated. I had a job. When I think of myself, it is as if I’ve built a really tall building and from one day to the other it collapsed. I lost it all”.

Meet Emad (b. 1987) from Damascus, Syria.


Emad fled Syria on October 25 in 2014. He had been called up for military service by the Syrian regime and the military had been at his house several times to pick him up. He has lost six cousins in Syria - all of them disappeared in Syrian prisons. 


He fled from Damaskus to Lebanon. “In Lebanon, life was way too hard, but I thought the war would end soon and that I could return to Syria”. 


Emad started working in the construction industry in Lebanon, but was taken advantage of by his employer, who could avoid paying Emad’s salary by turning him in to the Lebanese police. Due to this, Emad was denounced as a criminal and was forced to live underground. 

In Lebanon Emad has lost two cousins. One had to take care of some paperwork with the Lebanese government and never returned. His wife became a widow with five children. Another cousin disappeared in a Lebanese prison.


Emad made the choice of fleeing to Europe: 


“When you take the decision to go on this trip you know it may cost you your life”.


From Lebanon, he managed to get to Algeria by plane. From there he went on a dangerous car ride through the desert from Tunisia to Libya, a trip where Emad sat with twelve other persons on the cargo area of a pickup truck. The car drove at a very high speed to reduce the risk of being shot at and two men lost their lives during the trip: “The pickup truck jumped up and down. It was a big man who fell off. We were shouting but they could not stop. The other man had difficulties breathing. He was thrown off the truck. They left him in the Sahara”.

From Libya, Emad sailed to Italy in a crowded ship with approximately 200 other refugees. Five kilometers from Italy’s coast, the boat was about to sink, but they managed to be rescued by the Italian coast guard. Emad’s route ended in Denmark.

In Syria he worked as archaeologist. 


“In Syria I have taken an education. I am well educated. I had a job. When I think of myself, it is as if I’ve built a really tall building and from one day to the other it collapsed. I lost it all”.

Emad now lives in Bornholm. He likes living on the island, speaks fluent Danish and is enrolled in his education to become an electrician.



Photo by Martin Thaulow, Copyright © Refugee.Today/Good people.

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