From Damascus to Zagreb, but NOT as a refugee, how one new Croatian citizen from Syria is helping his native people in their trek across Europe.
With more than half a million refugees and migrants passing through Croatia since September and just a handful applying for asylum in the country, a young Syrian received Croatian citizenship, as was announced on Facebook refugee help page Dear Refugees: Welcome to Croatia on December 21, 2015:
“Today is a very special day for our admin team. One of our members, who is Syrian, received Croatian citizenship.
“Dear Abi, welcome to Croatia!”
Assuming (incorrectly) the new Croatian citizen to be a refugee, Total Croatia News contacted the Facebook page for an interview, and we received a prompt reply from one of the administrators, surely one of a select number of Croatian refugees from Damascus, Ali Tayfour, who was more than willing to answer questions, which are summarised in his words below.
Well, I am not a refugee, and I didn’t do any asylum seeking application I have been living in Zagreb for 2 years, coming here as a student. I am doing my Masters at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER), and learn the Croatian language in the philosophy faculty. I came here to finish my Masters in IT.
When the crisis started here, and refugees began to arrive, we decided to do something, so we made first the page on Facebook. But I felt that was not enough, I volunteered for the Red Cross, and I started helping in the field on the borders between Croatia and Serbia. After that, I start volunteering for the Croatian Police as a translator and interpreter.
Yes I saw a lot of bad situations, but the police and the rest of the international organizations are doing their best, and I am really thankful to all of them.
When i moved from Damascus, the capital of Syria and “My home town”, the situation was so bad that when i was there i didn’t feel danger or anything. You can say we got used to living with war. But after living in peace again, I recognized how dangerous it was to live there.
Croatia is my home now, even before receiving the citizenship, My Croatian friends have made me feel at home, and now I am one of them. I feel safe here and am grateful for the peace, something you can not buy with money, and I wish all the best for Croatia, and beloved Croatians, they are amazing.
Syria in the end is my home, I hope one day when the war will end, we all can go there.
When I moved in Croatia, I decided to start immediately to do my best to learn the language. Then I did many internships at UNDP, Ericsson, and 4 stars software, while at the same time following up with Zagreb University in order to enroll myself at FER faculty.
The main aim for our Facebook page is to help refugees in their journey, to try to connect refugees and volunteers and give directions and information about everything, posting in many languages, German, English, Croatian and Arabic.
An inspirational young man, and I am sure many will echo our congratulations on citizenship, as well as thanks for all his tireless work. A lesson to us all. Visit the Dear Refugees: Welcome to Croatia Facebook page here.