I haven’t written in a while because it’s been a while since I’ve found words to describe the amount of misery that keeps piling on. I recently went to Beirut. I went to Shatila Camp. Before all of this it was a miserable place. A place where the destitute lived and now it’s a place with the infinitely more miserable, where the barely living reside. Something gripped me when we drove there. It gripped me and at first I thought it was fear. I thought for my safety. I realised much later what I was afraid of was really seeing the people that lived there. Seeing just how bad it really was. 

How do I even begin to describe this? That the majority of people who live in and around that area have witnessed more macbre types of violence Hollywood movies would have material to build upon a thousand scary movies. A woman sits nonchalantely telling me how her husband was shot 8 times as he stood in line for bread while her six year old son watched. Another woman flippantly describes her neighbor who had gone a bit insane after her three daughters were burned alive by militias. And yet somehow these people, they live. They are continuing to live. Just barely. Numbed but their bodies live on. 

In Turkey, where I was last week, a young man describes the missile that took his house, his parents, his grandparents, his siblings and by some sheer act of bad luck, a sick joke, he and his younger brother survived. Another young boy who is a troublemaker in class his classmates joke and say that it’s the pent up anger from surviving the Houla massacre. The Houla massacre. Somehow massacres aren’t just political mockeries anymore, it’s school children banter. 

The levels of misery just pile up. They often layer on each other like dust on a forgotten book laying in a corner. The misery just piles up until you no longer see what started it. That in order to wipe away this misery, a blanket or a foodbasket wont do. It’s a cold fucking winter coming and a million blankets wont warm the souls of these people. It may warm their bodies but their souls have all gone cold. 

People tell me to stay strong, that we have a long road ahead still. Stay strong. Strong. I dont remember what strength is anymore. Is strength just moving along? Going on with the motions, but senseless and agonizingly emotionless? 

Nothing to contend with this deep sadness but the incredibly difficult task of just going on. A million sad stories, 3 million sad stories, no actually just about 10 million sad stories of loss, loss of every fucking thing. I painted on the walls of a school in Reyhanli Turkey three words. Love. Hope. Life. When I painted those words I meant it as a way for these kids to keep believing that there is love, that we always have hope, and that there is life at the end of this.

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything truth to what we say to each other anymore. 



Dear National Coalition,

You have a very important date coming up, I hope you’re preparing well. The Geneva 2 talks (as if we should anticipate a Geneva 3 or 4) will put you face to face with your enemy. You should be prepared.

You see, while you prepare to negotiate business class flights and upgrades to suites, the regime has already found a way to negotiate a presence at the conference, automatically winning. While you bicker like school children, the children of the Damascus countryside die of hunger. While you bully each other like punks in a park for front row seats, our parks have turned into cemeteries and mass graves. And while you are wrapped up in politicking a position based on nothingness you’ve lost sight that this is still indeed, a revolution.

Who do you think you represent? Over what land do you preside? You stand propped upon a fictional podium speaking to an audience you have already lost, for you stopped representing the Syrian people a long time ago. Rather than find friends on the ground to work with, you’ve created enemies. Rather than amplify the miseries of the Syrian people, you’ve been reduced to sound bites repeating the same tired slogans of 2011. Wake up.

We are not looking for another leader, for we are tired of leaders and joksters, lies and hoaxes. We are looking for team players. A team of people who still believe in the values we have struggled and are dying for. As you prepare your negotiating points, you will not be thinking of the boatloads of Syrians who have lost hope and plunged into the waters of the Mediterranean, facing death once more for the slim chances of hope in life on more merciful shores.

The Syrian people do not believe in you anymore. You have let us down. You are no more worthy of being in a future government of Syria than the Assad regime or Al Qaeda. None of you are of us.

Alas, there may be hope yet. You have a last chance to turn this around before you send us to our certain death, until Syria becomes a fragmented wasteland of extremism and desperation, until we are lost for generations.

You must empower the FSA and its leadership. They must be the spearheads of any talks for they are in the front lines dying, not you. There must be no negotiations while we are still paying for your mistakes with our lives.

There must be a cohesive coherent strategy, relayed to us, the Syrian people. We deserve respect, in fact, we demand it. You must listen to our woes and troubles and come up with solutions to solve them. You must be our advocates because your political life is at stake. That is a democracy.

You must be present, you must reach out, you must attempt to come home, we shouldn’t be the only ones risking our lives. And no symbolic gestures please, we see through it, we’re not idiots, stop treating us like we are.

You must stop spending money on hotels and conferences. It makes you less desirable. You’ve done nothing to deserve 5-star service. We will award you by welcoming you into our homes, and there you will be treated like kings and queens. Until then you must live like the humble peasants we’ve been reduced to.

Now is do or die. Either come together and do this right or go back to your lives in Europe and forget about us. Forget about us crawling across borders, eating stale bread, being prostituted and gang raped. Forget about the torture cells the shells and bombs. Forget about the orphans the maimed and crippled. Forget about our calls for freedom.

But maybe then again…you already have.



 

للتعميم و هام: 

فيما يتعلق بتطلبات الحصول على تأشيرة جديدة للسوريين قادمة إلى مصر

1. أصدرت وزارة الخارجية المصرية أوامرهم إلى السفارات المصرية يوم 21 يوليو فيما يتعلق اجراءات منح التأشيرات للسوريين.
2. وقد بدأت تأشيرات تجهيز فقط من يوم 21 يوليو وليس على تاريخ تقديم الطلب. الوقت للتجهيز كل الطلبات من 21 يوليو.
3. إذا كان لديك إقامة سارية المفعول في مصر، صالحة لمدة أطول من 6 أشهر لا تحتاج إلى تقديم طلب للحصول على تأشيرة دخول من السفارة للعودة. و تلك الإقامات السياحية يجب إعادة تقديم طلب للحصول على تأشيرة دخول.
4. السوريون أن لديهم بطاقات صفراء المفوضية وبدون إقامات على جوازات سفرهم تحتاج إلى تقديم طلب للحصول على تأشيرة دخول.
5. إجراءات منح التأشيرات بما في ذلك تصريح أمني قد يستغرق شهرا.

 

Regarding new visa requirements for Syrians arriving to Egypt

1. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued their orders to the Egyptian Embassies on July 21 with regards to visa procedures for Syrians.

2. Processing visas have only started on July 21 and not on the date of the application. The time for processing begins from July 21.

3. If you have a valid residency in Egypt, valid for longer than 6 months you do not need to apply for a visa from the Embassy to return. Those carrying tourist residencies must re-apply for a visa.

4. Syrians that have UNHCR yellow cards and without residencies on their passports will need to apply for a visa.

5. Visa procedures including security clearance may take a month.

 



البيان
الجالية السورية بمصر
يا شعب مصر العظيم
يوم أن اخترناكم ملاذا آمناً
فلأنه تعالى قال (ادْخُلُوا مِصْرَ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ آمِنِينَ)
ولأنه قد استقر عميقا في مشاعرنا بأننا كنا ذات يوم إقليم بلاد الشام الشمالي وكنتم الإقليم الجنوبي في دولة الوحدة
ولأن المحروسة هي أم الدنيا كما أن هاجر أم العرب أمنا ..
ولأن شعب مصر العظيم اعتبر مصابنا مصابه.. فواسانا بكل أدوات المواساة حتى بالكلمة الطيبة
فنحن إن شئنا أن نُحسب على أحد فعلى المحروسة أم الدنيا وشعبها العظيم المضياف ..
واليوم ونحن نستمع إلى خبر توقيف أحد المواطنين السوريين بالتهمة التي وردت على بعض القنوات الفضائية والإعلام المصري منسوبة إلى النيابة العامة فان ما يعنينا كجالية سورية أن نؤكد على ثوابت أساسية :
1- إن هذا التصرف هو عمل فردي بحت لا يمثل أحداً من الجالية السورية، وندين مثل هذه التصرفات الإجرامية التي لا تمثل إلا صاحبها.
2- إننا ننظر الى الشعب المصري كفريق واحد مهما تعددت مشاربه السياسية .
3-نؤكد على أن السوريين في مصر يقفون على الحياد من التغيرات على أرض مصر الحبيبه .
4- إننا إذ نرفع أيدينا بالدعاء لمصر وشعبها فإننا نؤكد على جميع أفراد الجالية السورية أن ينأوا بأنفسهم عن التجاذبات المصرية السياسية. والدعاء لمصر كل مصر أن يحفظها الله من كل سوء .
سلم الله مصر وشعبها وأوصلها إلى شاطئ الأمان
نص البيان باللغة الانكليزية :
To the Great People of Egypt
We have chosen this place as safe refuge and in that one day we were one people. The people of Egypt have long considered our suffering as theirs and from that have treated us as equals amongst you.
If we were to be considered of a people, it is the hospitable people of Egypt to which we owe gratitude.
Today we have become aware of a Syrian arrested on accusations publicized in the media and referred to the Public Prosecutors Office. This has severe implications on the Syrian community in Egypt and thus we in a unified voice state the following:
1. This conduct is but an individual act that does not represent the community neither in part or whole. We condemn any criminal acts such as these which do not represent any person other than himself.
2. We look to the Egyptian people as one team, no matter the divisions amongst them.
3. We stress on all Syrians in Egypt to stand in a neutral position in what is an internal Egyptian affair.
4. We pray for Egypt and its people and we stress the importance of the Syrian community to keep to themselves during this difficult political time in Egypt.
We pray to God to keep Egypt and its people safe.



LOUD & PROUD

President Mohammad Morsi declared, dramatically in a Cairo stadium full of supporters his intention to cut all ties with the Syrian regime and in a bold and surprising move completely shut the Syrian Embassy in Cairo and recalled Egypt’s mission to Damascus.

While the crowd cheered enthusiastically, chanting in solidarity with the Syrian revolution, the Syrian community in Egypt collectively cringed.

For the nearly 350,000 Syrians who have fled to Egypt escaping violence and war back home they have struggled to regain some semblance of a normal life. To date around 70,000 Syrians have registered with UNHCR as refugees, roughly 20% of the total community. The vast majority of Syrians in Egypt still require citizen services in order to maintain their day-to-day life, meaning dealing with their Embassy for routine paperwork.

Almost every aspect of life, from claiming births abroad to certifying deaths, requires administrative interaction through the Syrian Embassy. In a phone call to the Syrian embassy, an Egyptian switchboard operator seemingly himself still reeling from the news says sorrowfully that no new requests for citizen services will be received and all pending work is being returned to individuals by the end of this week.

COMPLICATIONS AHEAD

The reason such a small percentage of Syrians register as refugees is because Syrians (prior to Morsi’s statement) enjoyed a relative ease of living. A Presidential Decree issued in August of 2012 allowed Syrians to register in public schools and receive equal treatment as Egyptians with regards to all aspects of education. Similar decrees were issued for health and access to health services. This latest announcement throws this kind gesture for a spin.

Let us consider the average Syrian family living in Cairo. A husband works a low paying job barely able to pay rent, their kids are registered in local schools, the wife is pregnant waiting to deliver. The entire family is on an “education residency” stamped by the Mugamaa in Tahrir into their valid passports so they feel no need to register at UNHCR to gain legal status and they can essentially lead (somewhat) normal lives. Education residencies allow families to live legally in Egypt while their school-aged children are studying. This was made easier with the decree of August 2012.

Flash forward to the same family in 2013/2014 but with no consular services at the Embassy. The wife gives birth and is in need of registering this child and issuing a citizenship, this can no longer happen. The family would like to renew their education residency, so they go to the Egyptian government administrative offices, the Mugamaa in Tahrir only to find their passports are now expired they are unable to renew them and no residencies will be given to them on an expired passport. They are now, officially, illegal residents of Egypt with a stateless child.

Now multiply this simple case by 350,000 Syrians, with a steady increase of Syrians arriving daily to Egypt and numbers expected to reach half a million by August 2013. The only way to rectify the situation would be to register with UNHCR as refugees. Currently there is a three month wait to obtain refugee status with a high probably that the wait time will increase as the Syrian population increases.

There will be major problems ahead, not just for the Syrian community, but for aid agencies and Egyptian government institutions struggling to provide basic services. The ramifications are far and wide.

When embassies are ordered shut, especially in times of crisis where there is a large community in the host country, consular services remain open to at least handle the administrative work. In the case of Egypt, the entire Syrian Embassy is closing along with its Consular section. When that happens, another Syrian Embassy or Consulate in the near geographic region will take over the task of the now abandoned community. For Egypt, which is home to the largest non-border Syrian community, that replacement consulate will be difficult to find. Syrian regime ties with Libya and Sudan have also forced embassy closures and the closest countries with functioning consular services would either be Jordan or Algeria. Yet, with many Syrians already hovering below the poverty line in Egypt, and the economic situation only getting bleaker, it is unclear how they would even pay for the postage to send their citizen requests to the newly tasked embassy.

WHEN IT’S NO HELP AT ALL

Symbolically, when a President stands in a stadium of 16,000 supporters and seemingly takes a strong stand against a dictator who has violated every single law of humanity, it all seems kosher, until you realize that some help, is no help at all.

Having worked closely with the refugee community for over a year and a half now I can honestly say people come to Egypt for the small chance that they will live a normal life. It’s a chance full of hope for a future for their kids and to wait out the time until they can return home and pick up the pieces of their broken lives. Now those kids run the risk of becoming stateless, their situation more desperate, their status illegal and their lives infinitely more complicated.

I have, many times, when asked about the role of the Egyptian government in helping Syrian refugees, and replied: Little support, and that’s a good thing, we want to remain hidden because once governments get involved in refugee populations, it’s the people that’s worse off for it.



في منح لخمس سوريين! فرصة مذهلة و لاول مرة مفتوحة للسوريين! ستنظم “أضف” معسكرات أضف للتعبير الرقمي لسنة ٢٠١٣، للسنة السابعة على التوالي في الفترة من ١٦ الى ٣١ اغسطس في مصر في قرية المرجان في فايد، الاسماعيلية. تُنظم “أضف” مؤسسة التعبير الرقمي العربي، منذ عام 2007 معسكرات صيفية للفتية والفتيات العرب الذين تتراوح أعمارهم ما بين 12 و15 عاما، بهدف تشجيعهم على التعبير عن النفس، على نحو فني خلاق، باستخدام تكنولوجيا المعلومات والاتصالات. يستضيف المعسكر 80 من الفتية العرب، بعد يومين من التعارف من خلال ورش تعبيرية يختار كل مشارك من بين ورش متنوعة كل يومين، منها على سبيل المثال: التصميم البصري (التصوير والتصميم الغرافيكي والتركيب الرقمي للصور وتقنيات التحريك) و المسرح (فن الإيماء و الإلقاء، و الكتابة و التمثيل و الإخراج المسرحي)السرد(تعلم كيف تعبر عن نفسك كيف تكتب القصة وتلقيها)، و الصوت و الموسيقا (المؤثرات الصوتية، و طرق توصيل و تشغيل الأجهزة الصوتية)، و التدوين و البرمجة (أنظمة التشغيل و الشبكات و الإنترنت و القرصنة و المناورة في الشبكات الاجتماعية) و ورش فنية (تصميم الملابس، الديكور المسرحي، الأقنعة) و الفيديو (التصوير و التركيب و مؤثرات الصوت و الصورة و عمل الأفلام) و الرياضة (كرة القدم و كرة اليد و كرة السلّة و جمباز الموانع و تمرينات إيقاعية) و الرقص (التعبير بالحركة و الموسيقى و تصميم الرّقصات و تجارب في أنواع مختلفة من الرّقص المعاصر) تُعقد التدريبات في ثلاث معامل مجهزة بالمعدات الرقمية و الكاميرات و مسجلات الصوت و الحواسيب، وقاعات داخلية وخارجية متعددة حيث تقوم مجموعة من المدربين المتخصصين من مختلف الدول العربية بمتابعة و إرشاد المشاركين بصورة فردية و جماعية، و يحيطونهم بالاهتمام و التحفيز لمزيد من المعلومات http://arabdigitalexpression.org/camps للتعرف أكثر على المعسكرات http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_135450&feature=iv&src_vid=_ms0SbvgD-U&v=oEHdXmSHWqg جلسات تعرفية أسبوعية بمعسكر أضف https://www.facebook.com/events/454933137929294/?ref=22 استمارة الاشتراك في معسكر أضف السابع 2013 http://arabdigitalexpression.org/content/استمارة-الاشتراك-في-معسكر-أضف-السابع-2013



الجمعيات و الهيئات التي تدعم السوريين في مصر 20130207-143625.jpg

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