I’ve ruined trying to save my family

[ 2018-04-28 ] Joan Babeli is a Syrian who has lived in Catalonia for more than thirty years. A native of Aleppo, the country’s economic capital, he left Syria in the early eighties, when another political crisis hit the country. Disconnected from his land for many years, the war has put him back in touch with friends and family, whom he tries to help. Babeli is president of the PDeCAT in Artés (Barcelona) and works in the Generalitat (catalan government).

Helping Syrian refugees is not an easy task …

I went by car to find my brother in Slovenia, I brought two nephews here. Many mayors had promised me that they would help us and they would give us a roof and once here they said to me: «You have arrived too early». Too early? Death cannot wait. They did’nt want to do it. In the end I took them to Germany. In the Spanish State, nobody wants to stay. I have helped nineteen relatives. I have gone to Austria and to Lebanon. And I still help my sisters who are there, a disabled brother who can not leave … I had to sell a flat I had in order to help them. I have ruined myself. There is a great drama there.

Will it be difficult to return?

Few people will return to Aleppo. It is scorched earth. Two thirds of the city is destroyed, there are no factories. They have lost everything. Entire neighborhoods that need years and years to be rebuilt. I think there is a forced exodus. It’s calculated, we’ll see in twenty years. There is a calculated demographic change. On the Mediterranean coast of Syria, almost no one has arrived, and all that is the fertile line (Aleppo area) has been displaced. The objective is to empty the country and repopulate it. Companies win.

And… Why?

In Syria there was a class problem, now it has been disguised with religion, but it was a class problem. The ruling classes became impoverished and those who were poor became rich. The Syrian system divided power, charges. The administration for the Christians, the audiovisuals for the Druze, the military career for the Alawites, and for the Sunnis, more sporadic things. Ethnicities have been created through the economy. There were also many differences between cities such as Damascus and Aleppo and rural Syria. There are towns that did not have roads. The people of the villages hated the people of the city and that has been noticed in the conflict. People’s hatred has been incited and now this is very difficult to fix, although I trust there is a will to do it.

The war in Syria has also had many external actors

The third world war is made in Syria. What is happening there is much greater than Syria. Syria has become a puppet and the Al-Assad regime, too. They can not control it, they say that they can, but they can not.

Are volunteers in Catalonia, a country that made one of the most important mobilizations in favor of refugees?

The people don’t do anything I go to the reception center to support them and they are alone. More volunteers are needed, and the services that are given are not the best.

Source: Weekly ‘La República’ – nº 1 – 2018 April 28 – Catalonia (Spain)