Finding safety in the crowded rooms of Jordan's capital
“There were no Free Army in our quarter,” asserts Nadia, a Jordanian married to a Syrian. “We made a demonstration against Bashar and they bombed us. Our house was flattened.”
Three of her sisters, whose houses were also destroyed, are married to Syrians of Palestinian origin and cannot leave the country. The family took refuge in a school in Hajar al-Aswad, another conflict zone on the southern edge of Damascus.
“We came two months ago by taxi and had no problem at the border.
“I was pregnant and miscarried. A month ago, my husband, who is a police man, was arrested for no reason. He served the state for 20 years. We don’t know his fate . . . We lost his salary and his pension.”
She and her children depend on their relatives for food and shelter, like many other Syrians who do not apply or do not know they can apply to the UN for help.
By the time we climb back up two floors to the flat of Muhammad, his wife and sister are asleep. Here the divan and chairs are modern, the television of modest size, and the fridge is in the sitting room.
Muhammad begins, “We had a peaceful demonstration in our area against the governor of Homs who had a project to remodel the city and take our property without compensation. The government bombed although there were no armed people in the area.”
He arranges chocolates carefully on a plate and offers them to us. “Our house at the centre of Homs was next to a building that was hit. We had blast damage and did not feel safe. Homs is destroyed, dangerous.
“Eight months ago, we moved to Damascus. The Free Army helped us leave Homs.
“We came here three months ago. But we did not leave Syria officially. We have no stamps in our passports. We plan to apply to the UN for asylum documents.
“I used to work here before I got married, and made good money as an electrician. Construction is down so I was jobless for six weeks. Now I have a job but employers pay less than before. We are exploited.”
Muhammad walks us down to the ironwork front door and unlocks it. “We have thieves in this area.”
Amman’s dreaded traffic is light at midnight.