Nizip, Turkey, April 2013
“When the war began, most of the Circassians fled to the village of Berika, which is under the control of the United Nations…..We had four shelters since we were on the Syrian-Israeli border. We stayed there for 10 days. Seven villagers who went out of the shelters in order to bring food and water were killed.”…
“In Syria, no one has any assurance about their life, property or honour. We had no other option but to flee”…
” We don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Our only plan for now is to survive” …
Simply stated “History repeats itself!”. That is the fate of the Circassian’s people: to be deported again and again!! This talk will tackle the third event, namely, “The Syrian Crisis and the Circassians”.
Nowadays, the crisis in Syria is deteriorating and the levels of violence is increasing dramatically, which created unsafe and miserable living conditions throughout Syria and pushed the whole area toward the unknown. Consequently, this unrest and atrocity have been affecting the Circassian community dramatically in all aspects of life. Many settlements of Circassians have been a subject to both heavy and light shelling after military operations expanded to their areas, which used to be safe zones to many civilians seeking refuge from other areas. In Homs, for example, the Circassian Neighbourhood in Al-Byada has been totally destroyed to be followed by Al-Qousour Neighborhood. Also the villages of Derfool and Ohsaila between Homs and Hama have been shelled. Consequently, many Circassians have been forced to deport to the big cities of Aleppo and Damascus (and its surrounding). However, these in turn, are not safe any more. For example, the Circassian town of Marej El Sultan near Damascus is surrounded with military airport and radar stations and the fight there has not stoped since months. The same applies to the cities of Keswa and Arttouz. The hostilities in the city of Qudsaya have expanded to the Circassian neighborhoods causing many material casualties by the random shelling, which forced Circassians there to seek refuge (with those who arrived from Homs) in the villages of Bir Ajam, Buraiqa and Mudaryah in the Syrian Golan just on the cease-fire line between Syria and Israel. Those villages, in turn, have become also war zones between the forces of Syrian Regime and the rebels, where shelters have been shelled killing young innocent civilians. Considering the northn region, the center of the city of Munbej to the north of Aleppo has been shelled leaving several casualties…In general, the number of Circassian lives that were lost during this conflict exceeds a hundred lives.
On the other hand, the economic situation of many Syrian Circassians has almost been ruined. Many Circassians from the Golan villages were internally deported from Golan Heights after its occupation by Israel. Since then most of them have lived in poor slums around Damascus. On the other hand, the majority of Homs rural areas have been subjected to drought and desertification, which caused migrations toward the major cities seeking new living resources. This resulted in the fact that the majority of Syrian Circassians work in the sectors of business, services, constructions, industry, transportation and oil production. However, because of the great damage that has been affecting these sectors, many Circassians lost their businesses, their farms have been demolished and their jobs were terminated, which left them without sustainable living resources against the collapse of the Syrian currency and the rise of the prices.
All these factors have pushed the Syrian Circassians to seek safe place and refuge in the neighbouring countries. For example, 3000 refugees headed to Jordan, while around 4000 fled to Turkey and 750 to Egypt . Those are the countries, in which no-visa is required for Syrians, and besides Circassians they are hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Additionally, if we consider imprecise numbers of those who went to their relatives in Lebanon, Persian Gulf countries or in Europe and USA, we can estimate that 10 thousand Circassians left Syria because of the conflict, which is about 10% of the number of all Circassians living in Syria.
by Basel Katt