A Syrian family in Rijeka watches the tragedy at home unfold.
The news about the wave of refugees from Syria who are fleeing the war in search of safety and better future are being followed with great attention in the home of Jamal Sharbini in Rijeka, reports 24Sata on August 23, 2105. Jamal Sharbini is the father of Croatian footballers Anas and Ahmad Sharbini. He is of Palestinian origin, but his mother Khadia and father Ahmed have fled their homeland in 1948 and moved to Syria. Jamal and his sisters and brothers were born in Syria, but in 1973 a new war started and Jamal then moved to Croatia.
“I have graduated from the university, got a job, married my wife Ranka and have been living in Grobnik in Rijeka where we have raised our three children, Ahmad, Anas and Kadi”, said Jamal who is carefully monitoring the news from his homeland, where his mother Khadia and sister Tima still live.
“Fortunately, the apartment they live in is in the very centre of Damascus, right next to the presidential palace, so except for a few shells while fell in the area, there is no other damage. But, they cannot get out of the apartment, not even to the airport to leave. Two or three times a day they get electricity and internet, so I manage to talk with them for half an hour every few days. I have two brothers and three sisters, and they are all fine, some are in Dubai, some in Abu Dhabi.”
Jamal is often sitting quietly in front of the TV screen. It is hard for him to watch what is happening there, and he is powerless to do anything. Even for his loved ones. “Over 250,000 people have been killed, more than four million have fled. Honestly, I cannot even watch that anymore. People who until yesterday were doctors, engineers, professors, have suddenly been left with nothing, and now they are fleeing to Europe. Not long ago, Croatia experienced a war, but people who had fled have returned after the war. And where will the people from Syria return?”
“My sister is a doctor, but has a salary of 10 dollars. A few days ago, she paid a roast chicken 20 dollars, and it normally costs two or three dollars. Syria was once a country where you could live well, but now everything is destroyed and the state practically does not exist. People are scattered around the world. My mother is 83 years old, and I’d like to see her again. She and my sister used to come here during the summers.”
Even those who know the situation well have a hard time finding out who is fighting whom in Syria, and who is the victim and who is the aggressor. “It’s all politics, and I am trying to stay away as much as I can. I have advised my sons to do the same. We are not interested in politics, we just want to live in peace.”
Although he moved to Rijeka more than 40 years ago, Jamal has many times travelled to Syria to visit the family. “I have always felt nostalgic about the place where I grew up. That is why it is so hard to see what is happening there. I would like to see it once more, but I’m afraid my wish will not be fulfilled”, says Jamal Sharbini.