Syrians who risked their lives coming to Europe have ended up living in limbo.
Atia Al-Jassem, a 27-year-old Syrian barber from Damascus has made the decision to head back with his wife and one-year-old daughter after spending months stranded on the Greek-Macedonian border.
“We did not expect we were going to be treated as such in Europe. We thought they will be humane, looking after us and after our children, protect our children. We thought we will be helped, but what we found was the opposite. Europe has no feeling for us at all,” he said.
Like many Syrians, Atia’s journey to Germany was cut short when the borders were closed, and now months of living rough have taken their toll. Some Syrians are now reportedly paying smugglers to return home.
Every night at the border town of Didimoticho police report seeing around 20-40 refugees heading towards Turkey.
Even those who have reached Germany are considering the move back. Dania Rasheed, a refugee from Syriasays she experiences ‘humiliation and disrespect’, adding that their life was “not stable, there is psychological pressure, everything is forbidden and it’s “not like the life they used to live in Syria”.
More than 420,000 Syrian refugees arrived in Germany in the past year. Resources are stretched and the country is overwhelmed meaning it can take months for asylum applications to be processed.