Youssef, 58 years old

When we left Syria I did not take much. Later on I asked for a few things to be sent to me. I made sure to receive 2 very important things which my father had brought from Palestine: his Palestinian passport issued in 1945 and a floor mattress made out of the wool of the sheep we used to own back in Palestine. It was tradition to give your son a mattress like this.

I am Palestinian Syrian. I was born in 1957. I came to Lebanon with my family on the 13th of September 2012 looking for safety. They started suppressing the demonstrations in Daraa with tear gas and water, and then it evolved into the army shooting with live ammunition. After that, they started bombing. This was what pushed me to leave Syria. First we went to Damascus where we stayed for 17 days before we entered through Masnaa with our legal papers. We went to Aramoun and stayed at my sister’s as guests for approximately 2 months. We then went to Chatila camp and rented a small house for 6 months. In the end we moved to Bourj el-Barajneh camp. We moved here because it was bigger and more comfortable. I have been paying rent for 2 years… I was relying on some relatives to send me money but the crisis exhausted everyone’s resources. Now I rely on UNRWA and charities. I am blind because of Diabetes. I do not believe in medicine anymore. I lost my sight during surgery and I have been suffering from diabetes for 23 years.

Staying here became very hard for us because of new laws. Before, I was devoted to Lebanon. I thought I knew it and I have served military service here. I was surprised at how bad the situation was. People do not have tender hearts anymore, not like they used to have back in the day. I just came from Chatila and I am afraid to be stopped at a checkpoints. I entered Lebanon legally but now I find myself illegal here. Why do we have to renew our papers while we are refugees? Could they not just give us a paper until the crisis is over? There has to be an emergency plan for us. We are Arabs and our emblem is the relief of those in need; why are they stepping on our necks? You did not ask me about the rent: 450 US dollars and my income is 0.

My son and his wife were handcuffed at a checkpoint a few days ago because his visa had expired, and they would not renew it for him. Now they are keeping his papers at the General Security for 2 months. He has borrowed 4,000 US dollars so far to enable him to travel, and in case they do not give him his passport back in 2 days, he will not be able to go.