Kinana, 30 years old

I am Syrian-Palestinian. I moved to Lebanon together with my husband and my only daughter in 2012. We left Daraa after our house was bombed and destroyed. We went to Damascus where we were bombed again. We could not bear to stay there any longer. It felt like danger was everywhere so we decided to go to Lebanon. The first time we tried to enter, we did not succeed because of missing papers. We went back to Syria, gathered the missing papers, and tried again. It was only then that we were able to enter legally. We headed towards Chatila camp; everyone around us was going there. When we left Syria the only thing on my mind was getting my daughter out and taking her to a safe place… I cried a lot because I felt that I was leaving Syria for good, without the possibility of coming back.

When I arrived in Chatila I was surprised. At first, I thought it would be similar to the camps we have in Syria. Then I saw the atmosphere, the people and how they encountered us with racism...! Up until this day I do not feel comfortable here. Even though the people in this camp and we share the same Palestinian nationality, they would insinuate things like “you came to our home to tear it apart”. They say worse things. I found no kindness here. Nobody took us in or gave us shelter. They increased the rent for the houses when we arrived: a house that used to go for 100.000 Lebanese Pounds is rented to us for 300 US Dollars. Should not one Palestinian stand by another Palestinian wherever they are from, Syria or Lebanon? People did not have any consideration for the fact that we escaped war. In the first month, they were in a hurry to get the rent, the second, they increased it and the third, they increased it even more.

My husband did not find any work here. He went back to Syria and was smuggled into Turkey. From there he travelled to Sweden where he is a refugee now. My daughter and I are waiting for our family reunification. I work in the camp teaching children who immigrated like us. I do this to support my daughter and my mother-in-law who also lives with us.

I brought with me a necklace and a bracelet that one of my 5 sisters gave me. She is very dear to me. My family stayed in Syria and I have not seen them since we left. My mother came to visit us twice, my sister once, but I have not seen the rest of the family at all. As Palestinians they are not allowed to enter Lebanon.

I have the feeling that in Lebanon, there is no safety and in Syria, bombings continue. I do not know how to express this feeling. I mean it is very hard: I do not even have my parents around and I do not know anyone here. I am not happy but I am hopeful that maybe tomorrow we can join my husband, and acquire papers allowing us to go anywhere.