• Gaza

  • Thursday, March 21, 2024 at 5:20:09 PM
    Last Update : Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 4:50 AM

Syrian Refugee Whose Past Was “Erased” is Now “Losing His Present” in Gaza

(AWP) - Anas Katerji was among millions of Syrians who were forced to flee their country to seek refuge from the civil war that broke out over 10 years ago. Choosing to move to the Gaza Strip, and despite the harsh siege imposed on it by Israel, Katerji found favourable conditions to launch a chain of restaurants across the Strip, enabling him to settle there with his family ever since.

However, the outbreak of the Israeli war on October 7th has completely upturned the lives of Katerji and the 2.3 million people living in the Strip.

He said, “I left Syria without any problems and of my own free will, without any coercion from anyone or fear of remaining in Syria. I came in search of a future and improving my economic condition, and I stayed in Gaza for 10 years.”

He added, “I can no longer cope with life, especially since my work in tourism and restaurants depends on smiling. How do I smile at customers again? How do I open a restaurant? And where?”
Katerji points out that he has made many appeals and requests for help to return to Syria with his family, especially due to his wife’s terminal illness, for which no treatment is currently available in Gaza. But all his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

He explained, “Since the beginning of the war, I have been in touch with the Syrian embassy in Cairo and with more than one official and more than one international institution to help evacuate us through the Rafah crossing and from there to Cairo airport and back to Syria.”

“I want to return to Syria, where my home and relatives are, and to take my wife for her treatment. This is all assuming that we can stay alive, especially considering the threat of [the Israeli army] storming Rafah.”

The Syrian refugee described having “inner turmoil” in the face of the destruction of Gaza and the lack of hope for ever reopening any restaurants, saying, “The future is lost, the present is lost, and the past is erased.”