11 October 2017

“I am shocked by Europe. I thought it would be different here.”

Mohammad is 31 years old and he fled Syria after being accused of taking part in the 2012 riots and spending 5 months in a regime prison, where he was tortured.

MSF, Greece, Asylum Seekers
Mohammad is 31 years old and he fled Syria after being accused of taking part in the 2012 riots and spending 5 months in a regime prison, where he was tortured. Photo by: Tiziana Cauli

His teeth were pulled out, he has scars from the knife cuts and cigarette burns the Syrian police inflicted on him while in detention. His stomach and legs still hurt, five years later, from the beatings he suffered.

“They told us we would be safe in Europe but I don’t feel safe,” he says. “I am scared that if I receive a second rejection the police will arrest me.

The police here are like the police back in Syria. They insult us, they offend our religion, and they provoke us and use bad words all the time. They make us get naked to search us, but it is only to humiliate us.

He arrived on the island 11 months ago and has lived in the camp since. He now shares a tent with 13 more people.  Mohammad witnessed police physical violence in the camp.

Greece, Asylum Seekers, MSF
Mohammad hoped that once in Europe he would be helped getting his mouth fixed after his teeth were pulled out while he was in detention in a Syrian prison for allegedly taking part in a riot. Photo by: Tiziana Cauli

 “Sometimes people come back from the police station with a broken arm or leg, and with their face swollen. My friend was pushed on the floor and they stepped on his head. They come and wake people up at 6 am, for no reason, then they take us out to check our papers and we are scared because they have weapons, tear gas…”

Mohammad thought he’d be helped with his medical issues once in Europe, but that did not happen. “I thought they would fix my teeth and do something about my stomach. They used to give me pills for my ulcer but I had to cue for hours every time. Now I need to buy them.

My leg keeps hurting after I had hemorrhoids removed, but they told me nothing is wrong with it. I had to walk to the hospital by myself for the surgery, and then back to the camp, like an animal. They don’t think I am a human being”.

Mohammad says he has nowhere else to go and he wants to stay in Europe, although he doesn’t like Greece. “I’m a patisserie master and I can work. I want to apply for reunification with my wife, who is now in Damascus, and bring her here. I want to work and live normally in Greece, although nothing good happened to me here and I don’t like it. How could I?”

Find out more about MSF's work in Greece.