My family went to Sweden, I chose India where I felt more accepted: A Syrian refugee
Syrian refugee, 32 (Delhi): Fled the war-torn country this year and works as Arabic translator in hospitals
A few kilometres away from its DDA houses and across the subzi-mandi in South Delhi’s Sarita Vihar, a narrow lane lined with ‘Forex money exchange’ shops and vendors selling ‘green olives’ leads to a four-storey guest house. The 32-year-old can be often found on its terrace. Here, for the past four years, an “underground” Syrian restaurant has been turning out dishes from back home — syrup-soaked baklavas, pita bread and fresh hummus.
The 32-year-old first came to India from Homs, a city in western Syria, in 2011, when he enrolled for a Masters in English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi.
I hear Yemen is safer. I may return: Indian evacuee from Yemen
Saji Abraham, 47 (Kottayam, Kerala): Indian evacuee from Yemen
Over the 11 years that he spent working as a manager with a private firm in Sana’a, Yemen, Saji Abraham, 47, built his life painstakingly there — his home, furniture, and savings. However, when the West Asian nation plunged into a bloody civil war in March this year, and the Indian nationals had to be evacuated a month later, Abraham had to leave almost everything behind. “In an evacuation, a person is allowed to carry only 5 kg of luggage.
We had to abandon everything we had bought to furnish our house. There was no one to buy the household items of foreign nationals fleeing the war-torn country,” says Saji, sitting at his home in Kottayam, where he now lives with his wife Pushpa, who worked as a nurse in Sana’a for 18 years, and sons Godson and Godwin, both under 10 years of age.
On this day of Christmas, I can only pray for better: Iraq war survivor
Harjit Masih, 25 (Gurdaspur): Escaped from war-torn Mosul, Iraq
Earning around Rs 250 a day working as a daily wage labourer, Harjit has few off days such as Christmas. Wearing a black overcoat over a yellow shirt and black trousers, he is gathered along with others to enjoy Christmas festivities at one of the two churches in his native village Kala Afghana in Gurdaspur district of Punjab on Friday evening. Present at the church with cousins and friends and swaying to the loud music, Harjit says, beaming, “This is the only day that brings happiness to all of us. I am happy today.”
He hushes those who approach him attracted by his reputation that precedes him, of being the only one among 40 Indians captured by the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014 to have escaped. This day, Harjit doesn’t want to talk about that dark time.