[i] Hello!

[r] Hello.

[i] Tell me about yourself and your life in your country?

[r] I am [name] . I was born in the Ein El Hilweh camp in Lebanon. I am originally a Palestinian from Gaza. I was born in Lebanon, and I grew up there in the Ein El Hilweh camp. Then I went to Jordan because my father lives there and he has a Jordanian identity card. They call us the ’67 people (the Palestinians who went to the Jordan in 1967). Those who migrated to Jordan, not the refugees. We left Lebanon and went to Jordan in 1994. From 1994 I lived in Amman for the rest of my life. In 1995 my father asked me to leave the house, so I lived alone. I rented an apartment and I lived alone. I sold clothes and other things on the street. I didn’t go to school. I only went to school until the fourth grade. I worked on the streets all my time in Amman because no one could help me.

[i] How many brothers and sisters do you have?

[r] I have siblings, and I also have half brothers and half sisters, they live in different countries. There are four of us, my brother, my sisters and me. My eldest brother lives in Jordan, he is married and he has children. My sister lives in the US. She has only been there for 2 years. I have another sister who lives in Gaza, I haven’t seen her in 22 years.

[i] Tell me about your school life?

[r] I finished level four in primary school, then I left school.

[i] Why did you stop going to school?

[r] The reason is that no one supported me financially at school.

[i] No one there helped refugees in southern Lebanon?

[r] No one. No one.

[i] What is the situation there?

[r] The Palestinian refugees who came in 1948 are not treated like the Palestinians who came in 1967. The UN only helps the Palestinian refugees who came to Lebanon in 1948, but they don’t help the Palestinians who came in 1967. They don’t help them at all.

[i] In what year were you born?

[r] 1980.

[i] How old were you then…

[r] 1980.

[i] In what year were you in primary school?

[r] It was… 1990 or 1991.

[i] Were there many Palestinian refugees?

[r] Yes yes yes

Didn’t anybody take care of you?

[r] No, I lived with my mother in Lebanon, but my father was in Jordan, then my father took me with him. They had been divorced since I was a child.

[i] So did you live alone with your mother?

[r] Yes

How did your mother take care of you?

[r] She worked.

[i] What was her job?

[r] She worked in a candy store. But when she got married, it was hard for me to stay with her, so my father took me with him.

[i] What is your father’s job?

[r] He travelled to Iraq and Turkey to buy goods, after which he sold them. He didn’t have a specific job.

[i] Was your life difficult?

[r] A little.

[i] How did the Lebanese treat the Palestinians in southern Lebanon?

[r] They think that the Palestinians have ruined their country. Because of the Palestinians many wars have happened. Because of the Palestinians Israel attacked Lebanon in 1982. According to them all wars happened because of the Palestinians.

[i] Why do you think that many wars happened because of the Palestinians?

[r] Because they were forced to leave their country.

[i] That is why they want to return?

[r] Yes, they want to come back.

[i] No one helped them to return?

[r] Absolutely.

[i] When you went to Jordan, do you remember in what year that was?

[r] I think I went to Jordan in 1994.

[i] How was your life in Jordan?

[r] In 1994 I was young, 14 years old. I was not yet aware of any discrimination against Palestinians or the Palestinians who are from Gaza. I was not aware of these things, so my life was normal. Later, my father asked me to leave home. He was a difficult man. That’s why I left home and lived alone. I worked and took care of myself.

[i] Were you treated badly by the Jordanians?

[r] I wasn’t treated badly when I was little, but as I grew up, I felt it more and more. Then I decided to get married. My wife was a Palestinian but she lived in Syria. This was in 2010. I went to Syria and met my mother there. Because my mother is a Palestinian from Lebanon, she couldn’t go to Jordan, and I couldn’t go to Lebanon. I could go to Syria after receiving a tourist visa from the Syrian embassy in Jordan. They give tourist visas to Palestinians who originally come from Gaza and live in Jordan.

[i] When you started your life in Jordan, didn’t you go to school there?

[r] No.

[i] When you lived with your father, you decided to work, where did you work in Jordan?

[r] I sold things on the street, then I worked in a restaurant, and when my financial situation improved, I opened a mobile shop, mobile.

[i] When you wanted to marry a Palestinian woman living in Syria, did you live in Syria or did she come to Jordan?

[r] No, after I had finished all my business in Jordan, I moved to Syria.

[i] In what year was that?

[r] That was in 2010.

[i] After you were married, what were you doing in Syria?

[r] We couldn’t celebrate our marriage because the problems started.

[i] With whom did the problems start?

[r] The Syrians (civil war). I asked for a residence permit, but my application was refused. I could stay, but without documents. That meant that I had to go back to where I came from. I told them that I wanted to get married here, but they wouldn’t give me a residence permit. I have tried in many ways, but they have rejected me every time. When the situation in Syria worsened, I went back to Jordan, and I took my wife with me.

[i] You didn’t have a residence permit when you were in Syria?

[r] Yes.

[i] You were with your wife?

[r] Yes.

[i] Do you have children?

[r] No.

[i] After staying with your wife for a while, you decided to go back to Jordan, in what year was that?

[r] In 2011.

[i] You stayed in Syria for about a year?

[r] No, first I went temporarily to Syria to get engaged and then I went back to Amman. In 2011 I went back to Syria to stay with her and get married. I wanted to stay in Syria permanently. I finished all my business in Amman and then went to Syria. This was in September 2011, I went to live in Syria.

[i] Was it a difficult decision for your wife to leave Syria and her family and live in Jordan?

[r] It was not a difficult decision… It was not a difficult decision because all the doors were closed for me in Syria. I could not get permanent residence documents, and I could not live without permanent residence documents. For jobs, nobody will give you work if you don’t have a residence permit.

[i] After you came back with your wife from Syria to Jordan …

[r] I went back to Jordan without my wife.

[i] Without your wife?

[r] Yes. I returned to Jordan to invite her from there.

[i] After that?

[r] I went to Jordan and asked for an invitation for my wife from the Ministry of the Interior. They refused and told me that “we do not give a residence permit to Palestinians from Syria, that is the decision of the king of Jordan, that there is no residence permit for the Palestinians who lived in Syria”. I told them: “This is my wife I want to bring here and I have a temporary residence permit in Jordan, I live here in Jordan”. They said: “You are a Palestinian from Gaza so you can’t invite your wife”. They literally said this to me, the Ministry of the Interior.

[i] Why did Jordan make this decision?

[r] The reason is that they didn’t want the Palestinian refugees who lived in Syria to migrate to Jordan. They said: “If the Syrian government collapsed after the civil war, we have to accept all the refugees from the Palestinians”.

[i] Are there many Palestinian refugees in Syria?

[r] There are about 750 000 refugees there.

[i] How did you solve your problem?

[r] I didn’t solve it, it was solved at the end with a separation. My wife’s family asked for a divorce because I couldn’t bring my wife to Jordan. Not a single Palestinian from Syria managed to live in Jordan. Except for those who are married to a Jordanian citizen.

[i] You have suffered a lot during this period.

[r] Yes, it is.

[i] And you could not marry the woman you loved.

[r] Yes for sure.

[i] What did you decide in this situation?

[r] My wife’s family asked for a divorce, a lawyer from Syria called me, then I accepted the divorce.

[i] Dan…

[r] There was nothing I could do.

[i] What did you decide for the future?

[r] This was in 2014. After 2014, in 2015, I asked the hand of a girl who lived in Jordan to marry her.

[i] What is her nationality?

[r] She is Jordanian. She is of Palestinian origin but has the Jordanian nationality.

[i] Are you married to her?

[r] No. I was not accepted because I only had a 2 year old Jordanian temporary residence permit. This is given to people who originally come from Gaza.

[i] Were her parents the ones you didn’t accept?

[r] Yes, her parents.

[i] This is a real tragedy.


[r] Ehhh… Even when I wanted to invite my mother to Jordan, the government wouldn’t accept it. I can’t invite my family to Jordan because I’m not Jordan.

[i] Where did your mother live at that time?

[r] She was still in Lebanon, in the Ein El Hilweh refugee camp.

[i] What did you decide to do after that?

[r] I thought: “I have no rights as a human being and I was rejected because I come from Gaza and I am not a citizen, and I have no rights like others in the country”. This caused a lot of problems, especially psychological problems. I cried a lot when I was home alone, and I asked myself, “Why is this happening to me? Why did this happen? Why is this happening? Why?” I reached a point that I wanted… I wanted to commit suicide. A lot of negative thoughts came to mind. That’s why I finished all my business in Jordan and went to Turkey, and from Turkey I went to Greece via smugglers.

[i] You decided to emigrate after your life in Jordan and Syria became impossible, right?

Absolutely, it was not possible to go to Syria after the civil war started there. There was no reason to go to Syria after what had happened. I had a lot of problems with my ex-wife’s family. It was not possible for me to live with my wife in Lebanon because I could not go to Lebanon. I did not want to live in a country of which I knew nothing. All the doors were closed to me. All roads were closed in my life. I tried to go to Egypt, but they wouldn’t accept me. I could not go to Egypt. If you are originally from Gaza and you are less than 40 years old, you are not allowed to live in Egypt.

[i] You don’t get a nationality if you weren’t born in one of these countries, do you?

[r] No no no no, never. I have my Jordanian identity card with me, I will show you. This is it.

[i] Yes.

[r] This is a temporary residence permit for the Palestinians who originally come from Gaza.

[i] You couldn’t get an official job with this identity card?

[r] No. Palestinians from Gaza are not treated the same as the local population. They first give jobs to the Jordanians, also in the private sector. The priority is always with those who have the Jordanian nationality. Many people from Gaza with a professional career lost their jobs after the government drew up a law that gave priority to local citizens. The jobs are for local citizens, not for foreigners. In addition, the Palestinians from Gaza need a work permit to work in Jordan. Although these Palestinians have been living there for 50 years, not a day or two.

[i] Is the financial situation of your mother and father average or below average?

[r] It is below average.

[i] It was a difficult life for them?

[r] Yes.

[i] When you decided to emigrate and leave Jordan and Syria, was Turkey your final destination or just a transit country?

[r] Turkey was a transit country.

[i] Which country was your destination?

[r] My destination from the beginning was Belgium.

[i] Why did you choose Belgium?

[r] I always listened to the news of the European Union when a minister from Belgium said: “The Palestinians have the right to obtain nationality in all European countries, not just a residence permit”. They always defended the rights of the Palestinians. When the Arab countries did not accept this, they said to these Arab countries: “If you were good for the Palestinians, you would not ask them for a visa when they want to visit your countries”.

[i] That’s right, the same thing happened to me. The European countries help the Palestinians and give them a residence permit, while the Arab countries do not.

[r] That’s right. Saudi Arabia did not give a visa to Palestinians who do not have the Jordanian nationality, not even to visit Allah’s holy place for Umrah (religious rites). For Umrah (religious rites). They did not give a visa to Palestinians who come from Gaza and live in Jordan to visit the holy place because they did not have the Jordanian nationality. If you had the nationality, you could enter Saudi Arabia and if you had no nationality, you could not enter. When the international media condemned it, Saudi Arabia annulled this decision and let us in.

[i] Was the journey from Jordan to Belgium easy or difficult?

[r] It was very difficult.

[i] What did you do?

[r] I sold my shop. Then I left. Because I had no hope to live there, not even 1% hope. I was psychologically very tired and started thinking about suicide. Many negative thoughts occurred to me when I entered my house.

[i] When you decided to emigrate, did your mom and dad know about it?

[r] No, no one knew I was going to leave. I left without telling anyone. Because… because my father died and my mother was not with me in Lebanon. I didn’t discuss my decisions with anyone.

[i] Your family problems had a negative impact on you?

[r] Sure.

[i] For example, the divorce of your parents.

[r] I am only human. My family had been broken since I was a child. I have a half-brother with my father, his mother is Egyptian, he was born in 1983, I know nothing about him. His name is Eyad.

[i] Have you ever met him?


[i] Which of your brothers have you met?

My half-brother of my father, and the half-brother of my mother, and the half-brother of my mother.

Are they all boys?

[r] No, my father and mother had two daughters and a son… No, two daughters and two sons. One sister is now in America, she has been there for two years, she first lived in Jordan. She had the Jordanian nationality because her husband is a Jordan. I have a brother in Jordan, and a sister who has lived in Gaza for 22 years, I haven’t met her yet.

[i] Haven’t any of your siblings tried to help you and take you to the country where he or she lives?

[r] No, who? My sister who lives in Gaza?

Your sister who lives in America.

My sister in America has only been there for two years, I went to Europe before she went to America.

[i] After you had finished all your business in Jordan and decided to migrate to Belgium, what did you do step by step and how was the journey?

[r] Step by step, first I went to Turkey.

[i] How?

[r] By plane. The only positive thing for Palestinians from Gaza who have the temporary Jordanian residence permit is that Turkey easily gives us a visa at the airport.

[i] Has your plane landed at the airport of Ankara?

[r] Yes … No, at the airport of Atatürk.

[i] In Istanbul?

[r] Yes in Istanbul.

[i] Did you stay in Istanbul?

[r] No. I entered Turkey on 6 May 2016. After that I went to a small island in Greece, Milos. On 9 May 2016. The journey took 3 days from Turkey.

[i] How was the journey from Turkey to Greece? And how did you travel?

[r] I travelled by boat at sea.

[i] Were you not afraid that the boat would sink?

[r] I told you I was thinking of suicide. I just wanted to die, I wanted to… I was so desperate, my life no longer had any value. I was so desperate. Either I change my life and become a person with a nationality so that people respect me, or I don’t want my life. We are not treated as citizens in the Arab countries because they only respect what kind of nationality documents you have, they do not respect you as a human being.

[i] After you travelled to Greece by boat, how did they treat you there?

[r] We were taken by the naval police of Greece and they put us on their ship. They beat us when they brought us on board.

Did they beat you?

[r] Yes. Then they left us on the deck of the ship. It was cold, early in the morning.

[i] Where exactly in the ship?

[r] On the deck of the ship.

[i] Why were they so aggressive to you?

[r] They first shout at us to return.

[i] Is it because Greece doesn’t want any refugees?

[r] Sure.

[i] What did you feel then?

[r] Nothing. I reached the point where I no longer had feelings. The only options left were that I could either reach Europe, or that I would die in my own country.

[i] After they had put you on the deck of the ship,…

[r] Yes.

[i] Where did you go then?

[r] They took us to the island of Mytilini.

[i] What were you doing there?

[r] We went to Lesvos.

[i] What happened there?

[r] Nothing, they took our fingerprints and then they sent us to a refugee camp. There were about 4000 or 5000 people in this refugee camp. The capacity of this refugee camp was 2000.

[i] How many days did you stay there?

[r] 50 days.

[i] And after that?

[r] Then I was imprisoned in ”a closed refugee camp”. After they sent us from an open camp to a closed camp.

[i] Why did they do that?

[r] I don’t know, a new general became the manager of the camp and he started sending people to that camp.

[i] And after that?

[r] I was trapped in a refugee camp called Kasanthy, in a region called Kavala. They sent us there with a boat. The journey took 12 hours. I was detained for 10 days, 5 days in the refugee centre and 5 days in the police centre of Kavala, then they sent us to a closed refugee camp. I spent five months in the Kasanthy refugee camp and one and a half months in the Trama refugee camp. Both are closed camps.

[i] They didn’t allow you to go outside?

Not at all… Not at all.

[i] How did they treat you in the refugee camp?

[r] Very bad.

[i] What did they feed you?

[r] In Kasanthy center they gave us a croissant for breakfast, and at lunch they gave us lentils or macaroni, and at dinner the same.

[i] Did they put you in this refugee camp until a decision was made or until certain procedures were completed?

[r] It is a centre for holding refugees.

[i] There are no procedures? Just detention?

[r] No, I was interviewed, I was interviewed. I was forced to apply for asylum there. They took my fingerprints on the island of Lesbos. In every country you enter, they take your fingerprints. When I was detained in the camp, I had to choose between applying for asylum or being deported to Turkey. I was so afraid of being deported to Turkey.

[i] After you were interviewed?

[r] Ehhhhhhhhh…

[i] Was your asylum application accepted?

[r] No. I left the camp before the decision was made because they told me: “If the decision hasn’t been made 90 days after the second interview, you can leave the camp. We will then no longer be able to hold you”.

[i] Did they let you go?

Yes, they gave me a paper to take to the Ministry of Migration and apply for an OZVICE, like the orange card here (temporary residence permit).

You get financial help from the orange card, don’t you?

[r] No, with this card you are homeless on the street, without financial help. If you are in a special situation in Greece, if you have lost a leg, or have epilepsy, or are lying about it… then they let you stay in a refugee camp. Families come first. If you are alone, you have to help yourself and there is no place for you. No refugee camp or whatever. I stayed in Greece for two and a half years. After the refugee camps, nobody helped me.

[i] What did you do to survive?

[r] I slept in an abandoned school in Athena. In a place called Khezakia.

[i] How did you get food?

[r] An organization gave us breakfast and dinner.

[i] What did you decide to do next?

[r] Nothing, I couldn’t do anything. I went to many organizations like the UN, but they did nothing. They just took my phone number and my OZVICE number and they said they would call me. I went to the UN 10 times for this problem. Every time I went to them, they said, “Give us your phone number and we’ll call you back … Give us your phone number and we will call you back”.

[i] In the end, nothing happened?

[r] At the end I got a legal residence permit in Greece.

[i] You finally had a residence permit?

[r] Yes, I got a residence permit. On the same day I got my passport. I booked a trip to Belgium.

[i] When you booked your trip to Belgium, was it by plane or something else?

[r] By plane.

[i] At which airport did you arrive?

[r] The airport of Charleroi.

[i] What happened to you when you arrived at Charleroi airport?

[r] Nothing happened to me.

[i] Did you come in without asking for asylum at the airport?

[r] No no no no, I didn’t ask for anything.

[i] After you arrived at Charleroi airport, what did you do?

[r] After I left, I asked the people there questions. There were many Moroccans outside the airport, they were taxi drivers. I said to them: “I want to go to Brussels, to the city”. I took a taxi and bought a ticket.

[i] What kind of ticket did you buy?

[r] I bought a bus ticket and took the bus to Brussels.

[i] What were you doing in Brussels?

[r] Nothing. I called my friend. He came and took me to the refugee centre.

[i] Weren’t you afraid they would send you back to Greece because you had a residence permit there?

[r] As soon as I had left the plane, I destroyed the document. I didn’t keep an identity card with me. Even if they send me here to prison, I will never go back to Greece. Because my life there was terrible. I was in some kind of prison at first and then I slept on the street. In the region where I was sleeping in the abandoned school there was a group protesting against the government. I don’t know exactly what happened, but every day there were problems and the police used tear gas. I was usually homeless. I didn’t get support or help anywhere.

[i] What happened after you applied for asylum in Brussels?

[r] They put me temporarily in a refugee camp. After two days in the refugee camp I went to the Commissioner General. There they sent me to another refugee camp. They gave me an appointment with the Commissioner General on 2 August. On 2 August I went there and did the first interview.

[i] In what year?

[r] In 2018. On 02/08 I did my first interview. I was not accepted to be covered by the Dublin Regulations.

[i] What happened?


[r] I did not meet the right conditions for the Dublin Regulations or something. I was interviewed immediately. He asked me, “How did you get here?” I told him that I had told him everything honestly.

[i] What was the result of your second interview?

[r] I haven’t had the second interview yet. Only the first one.

[i] You’re staying in Belgium now with the Orange card, right?

[r] Yes.

[i] How do you see your life now?

[r] At some point, from December onwards, I had a hard time psychologically. I couldn’t sleep well. When I went home, I stayed awake. I could not sleep. I sleep in the bus when I want to go to a place. When I came home I stayed awake all night. Sometimes my whole body is asleep, but my head is awake, I think a lot. A lot of thoughts go through my head. I got all kinds of advice and information. One day I took 11 sleeping pills. Then I was taken to the hospital. They asked my roommate in the hospital: “Why did he do that?” He told them that I had told him: “Maybe I’ll sleep in and never wake up again, and I’ll find peace”.

[i] Do you share an apartment with anyone?

[r] I now live in a social residence.

[i] Do you think that after the interview they will refuse your asylum application to stay in Belgium?

[r] Yes.

[i] What do you think is the reason?

[r] I don’t know, I haven’t been refused yet.

[i] You did the first interview and you’re still waiting for the second interview, right?

[r] I haven’t finished the second interview yet.

[i] Do you know how long such procedures take?

[r] There is no fixed period. Until they decide to investigate my case. Some people came after me and were already doing the second interview. Other people came a lot for me, but haven’t done the interview yet. The timing of the procedures depends on them, not on me.

[i] When you arrived at Charleroi airport and later in Brussels, what was your first impression of what you saw here? What is it like here compared to Arab countries?

[r] My first impression was not when I arrived here, but I felt that I was treated like a human being when I was taken to the hospital after trying to kill myself by taking pills.

[i] What were they doing to you at the hospital?

[r] I felt human again because of the care they gave me. In an Arab country, they wouldn’t take care of me, even if I was dying on the ground. My father died in a kidney washing process.

[i] Do you live in fear of the second interview and the decision these days?

[r] Yes of course.

[i] What do you intend to do if your application is refused?

[r] I will have no future then. It will be destroyed, there will be no future for me. My application was already accepted in Greece, I was treated badly and had the most difficult time of my life there. There they did not care about my humanity. Really, Greece is like any other Arab country.

[i] When you go home to sleep…

[r] I still take sleeping pills and medication to calm down.

[i] Do you still have nightmares?

[r] Yes, I still do… I still have nightmares. A few days ago I had an appointment with my doctor, I don’t know what happened to me, but I became very annoyed because she wants to give me a new appointment and I have put in the horn. I don’t know what happened to me. Things happen so I don’t know what I’m doing.

[i] You started to lose your temper…

[r] Exactly.

[i] Because of the long suffering and the many waiting.

[r] Indeed. I even began to notice that the medications I take have a negative effect on me, not a positive one. The sleeping pills no longer have any effect on me, as if I were not taking them. I don’t sleep when I take the sleeping pill. The doctor said that the effect will not be in one day and one night, not in two days, not in this and that…

[i] What will your dream be if they accept you here in this city, what do you want to be?

[r] The first thing I want, because it is essential, is work.

[i] Do you intend to learn Dutch?

[r] Sure.

[i] Did they give you some Dutch courses in the refugee camp?

[r] I didn’t follow any courses in the refugee centre because I didn’t stay there for long. I registered here at school when I moved to an apartment. I took 7 lessons. After I had taken a test, I went to the school. My friend helped me a lot with the test. Because my friend helped me pass the test, they took me to a level higher than my level. I took the test again from the beginning because the level of the course was very difficult for me. They told me to go to open school. The open class.

[i] When you were in Brussels…

[r] Yes.

[i] Were you a refugee camp in Brussels or did you move to Antwerp?

[r] No, my refugee camp was in Hasselt.

[i] You mean they sent you to Hasselt when you went to Brussels, right?

[r] Yes, they sent me to Hasselt.

[i] And what happened in Hasselt?

[r] When I was in Hasselt, I did the interview. Then they told me that I didn’t meet the Dublin conditions, but I had the right to get a social housing. From 2/9 onwards, you had the right to ask for a social home.

[i] When you asked for social housing, which city did you choose?

[r] I chose a place near Brussels like Mechelen I asked them if there was anything near the capital, they told me Mechelen or Antwerp. I decided to choose something between Brussels and Antwerp and that’s why I chose Mechelen.

[i] Are you staying in Mechelen now?

[r] No, I now live in a place called Niel. It is part of the Antwerp region. There are buses to Mechelen, to Antwerp, to Brussels. It’s close to Boom. It is connected to those 3 cities.

[i] When you go to Antwerp, do you just come for a visit?

[r] Yes, of course.

[i] Did you start a Dutch course in Niel or Boom?

[r] I had an appointment at school after the second test in 28/01. After I went to school in 28/01, I noticed that they made another mistake. They placed me on an even higher level than I had before. They told me to wait for a phone call from them after they decided when the course starts.

[i] How do you manage your life in the city where you live without Dutch?

[r] I’m staying at home, I’m not going anywhere.

[i] Haven’t you met anyone from the Arab community or Palestinians?

[r] No.

[i] What are you doing nowadays?

[r] Nothing, if I want something, I’m going to buy it, I’m going back.

[i] Do you ever experience difficulties when you buy something in the supermarket?

[r] No.

[i] You have decided to work when you get the residence permit, and stay in this city, what do you want to do?

[r] Everything.

[i] But first you want to learn Dutch, right?

[r] Yes, the language is the basis because without the language you wouldn’t be able to do anything.

[i] If you have found a job and you have been successful here, what are your plans for the future?

[r] What plans do you mean?

[i] A work project in the future, or a marriage …

[r] Of course I am 39 years old now. When I see a child on the street, my heart starts to cry and I wonder why I don’t have a child? Why this? Why that? … I think a lot about these things. In the end, I say, “This is my destiny in this life, this has happened to me, because of this and that…” That is my destiny.

Don’t you feel lonely?

[r] I have been lonely since I was 15 years old.

[i] You hope that the Belgian government will take the decision as soon as possible and accept your application…

[r] I hope so.

[i] To be able to start again?

[r] I would like that to happen.

[i] Did you have a good feeling about the first interview?

[r] To be honest, I felt good at the first interview. I felt good, I don’t know… I was at ease because I was honest and telling the truth. I didn’t make up stories, I just told them honestly what happened to me. I hope to get the residence permit. The Commissioner General said that Jordan is a peaceful country. I said to him: “I didn’t say that there are rockets being fired at Jordan either”. Jordan is also peaceful, but for the local population, not for me. I was oppressed in Jordan. I was treated badly just because I come from Gaza. It is not my fault that I come from Gaza. Nobody chooses what they want to be. I didn’t get my basic rights, they didn’t allow me to see my mother, they didn’t allow me to invite my wife to the country. Why do you look at me like a Jordan when it comes to money? But when I want something from the country, you look at me like a Palestinian from Gaza. I have had a herniated disc in my chest. I went to a government hospital, not in private because private is very expensive in Jordan. They asked me to pay 1500 Jordanian Dinar. A Jordanian only pays 35 Dinar. They only ask Jordanians for the insurance costs. They get a health insurance.

[i] Don’t they give sickness insurance to Palestinians?

[r] No. They have decided that the health insurance will only be provided to the children of Jordanian women. If you come from Gaza, your mother must have the Jordanian nationality. What about someone who comes from Gaza but whose mother does not have the Jordanian nationality? Only Allah can help hell. I even went to the Palestinian Embassy. There they said to me: “There is nothing we can do for you. Jordan is responsible for you, we are not responsible for you. We are only responsible for the Palestinians who come from Palestine.

[i] If you have children in the future, what are you going to do for them to spare them the suffering you have suffered?

[r] One of the reasons why I left is this thing. If Allah helps me and things are going well here, and I am ever married, then I will not let my children live as I have lived. The life I have lived I wish no one, neither to an enemy nor to a loved one. Because it is a real tragedy. If it is not allowed to see my mother or my wife, not allowed, not allowed… Everything in my life was “not allowed”. Not allowed … Not allowed …. Why? Because I am a Palestinian. I didn’t choose to be a Palestinian, I didn’t make that choice myself.

[i] And there is no solution for the Palestinian cause.

[r] They have to find a solution first, and when they find a solution, they can send us back.

Do you think the Palestinians have no hope of a solution?

[r] I lost that hope in this life.

[i] Nobody thinks of a solution for that anymore.

[r] Honestly, no… Honestly, no. Eventually, some people will stay there and others will leave. The way the Arab countries treat us is as if they said to the Palestinians: “Go away, don’t stay here”. It is a message for the Palestinians. The hard life caused by the bad treatment is a message to the Palestinians who live in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or Egypt or somewhere else: “Go away and emigrate”.

[i] Where should they emigrate to?

[r] Away, just emigrate.

[i] The European countries started to close their borders to the refugees, where should they go?

[r] They should throw themselves into the sea.

[i] or they should kill themselves.

[r] A Palestinian poet once said: ‘Oh Palestinian, you must not live’. Wasn’t it the poet Tamimi who said this? Tamimi Al Bargothy. We are only made to suffer. To live a hard life … To live homeless… We all live in a different country. I have a brother in Lebanon, I have a sister in Gaza, I have a brother in Egypt and I have a sister in America. We all live in a different country. If something bad happens to one of my family, doesn’t he need me? If I get sick, no one will take care of me.

[i] Do you still have contact with your mother and your brothers?

[r] We are only in contact by phone. We are only in contact by phone.

Did your sister, who emigrated to America,…?

[r] Yes.

…a good life?

Yes, she has a good life. She was recognized in America as a refugee.

[i] Do you think your life will be good after all you’ve come across? After so much indescribable suffering?

[r] I hope so.

[i] What would you feel if you received the news that you were accepted here in this country?

[r] It will be as if I were accepted to go to heaven. Indeed, I have suffered much in my life. I didn’t feel respected in my life by anyone, by any country or person. The moment I first felt that I was being treated like a human being was when I was taken to the hospital. And when I left the hospital, after the good care I received from my doctors, they visited me in my house. If I died 60 times in the Arab countries, I wouldn’t see what I saw here.

[i] People in the Arab countries are beginning to hear that Palestinians in Gaza are starting to set themselves on fire with gasoline.

[r] This also happened a lot in Jordan.

[i] Did this also happen in Jordan?

[r] Yes, by Palestinians who originally came from Gaza and went to live in Jordan. Not so long ago someone set himself on fire in Gaza refugee camp. Someone from the Jarsh family.

[i] Didn’t the governments take action?

[r] Nothing, they keep making new rules. They raised the price of the bread in Jordan. They raised it… The government stopped subsidizing bread. At first it was cheap but the government stopped supporting the bread. They give the Jordanians extra money to compensate for the higher price of the bread. The people who come from Gaza are not helped. The MPs have asked to cancel this law… cough… because the people from Gaza are not being helped like others. Although people from Gaza have been living in Jordan for more than 50 years. The people of Gaza are not allowed to own property. If they want to register a car in their name, they have to ask permission from the police. The people from Gaza are not even allowed to work as taxi drivers in Jordan. You can’t get a commercial license, they only give you a private license. If you want to buy a car… sneeze… you need permission from the police to register it in your name. You cannot register a property in your name. If you are a doctor, you are not allowed to practice your profession in Jordan.

[i] That’s why there were revolutions in all Arab countries. People wanted to change their governments.

[r] They are dictators, not governments.

[i] They just take care of …

[r] A president who only has to stay 4 years, but instead stays 20 or 30 years. He is a dictator.

[i] They only take care of those who are close to them.

[r] Yes of course. The army is not there to protect the country, but to protect the one who sits on the throne. Unfortunately, we cannot say such things in those countries.

[i] Do you think there is freedom of speech here…

[r] Sure.

[i] …and freedom of speech?

[r] Sure. If you don’t hurt anyone, you can say what you want.

[i] Have you met Belgians or known a Belgian here?

[r] No unfortunately.

[i] What languages do you speak?

[r] I speak a little English. I only know a few words in Dutch.

[i] Do you feel like you want to talk to people when you are walking down the street?

[r] I want to hang out with people and go to school. That’s what I wish for. I asked my assistant to find me a volunteer job. To be able to deal with people. I said: “it would do me good psychologically, I would like you to find me a job as a volunteer. I don’t want to be paid for it. A volunteer job to help me meet people to escape from my deadly life, to escape the thoughts. Because it will keep me busy.

[i] How do you spend your time at home?

[r] With nothing.

[i] Haven’t you thought of a hobby, or sport or reading books?

[r] I intend to register with a sports club. There is no club in our neighbourhood, I will look for a club in another place, in Antwerp.

[i] Do they give you financial help to become a member of a club here?

[r] No. It should be at my expense.

[i] Is the help you get now enough to live off?

[r] I can eat well from it. I just need time to stand on my own two feet.

[i] Will you get full health care?

[r] I get more than excellent health care.

[i] I want your life to be better, and I want you to be quickly accepted to start your new life in Belgium, and I also want you to find the woman who will make you happy in your life and make you forget the suffering you saw before.

[r] If Allah will.

[i] And that you can start working here to compensate for what you have lost in your life.

[r] If Allah wills it.

I wish you success.

[r] Thank you.

Thank you very much.

You’re welcome. Thank you very much.