by Waging Peace
“I’d rather return to Syria and die in the fighting”, she told me.
If you look past the tea, to the left of her grandchild, you can see her. Not her face, as I sought to protect her identity, but you see the 70 year old woman sitting on the floor in a green-stripe dress and mis-matched socks.
She’s from Syria and like millions have fled war, and ISIS (yes, refugees are fleeing ISIS), now living in a tent in a refugee camp on the Jordan border. On a rare occasion, she, but not her husband (they can never leave at the same time), was granted permission to leave for 5 days to visit family, also refugees living in a slum-like apartment. When I asked her story she told of horrible lines for minimal amounts of food, long walks to the toilet in the middle of the night, and lack of medicine and medical care.
Wiping tears from her eyes she told me that she and her husband wanted to return home, to Syria, “It’s better to die with dignity, than live as we do.” Her daughter sitting beside her dropped her head.
Most of refugees I’ve met feel the same. They want to return home, immigrating to the US or Europe is better than a refugee camp, yet they long for home. Millions have been displaced, and it’s uplifting to see global Jewish support, remembering their own persecution and the resentment they received as immigrants, advocate for refugee resettlement.
In the US, and in NC, there are several agencies assisting refugees, who have gone through extensive screening, resettle. For those I met, the screening process is like this: First they are screened by the Jordanian Government before they are allowed in the camps. Then by the United Nations, and then by the government of the receiving country. Once they are approved, the refugees must participate in an intense six month orientation program, becoming familiar with the culture of the host country. The UN then places them with a settlement agency. Two in the WS,NC area are World Relief and Church World Service who can explain the screening and resettlement process.