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Messengerís interview with the Family from Yemen

By Mariam Chanishvili
Friday, April 27
2017 brought severe conflicts in many regions, notably Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, etc.

The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people around the world has reached 65 million.

An asylum seeker, under the Georgian legislation, is an alien or a stateless person, who has applied for international protection to a state agency, and in respect of whom the Ministry has not made a decision, or a court decision has not yet entered the legal force.

Providing a shelter is not enough, there should be some educational opportunities as well accessible for the refugees in Georgia.

According to the officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it is important to create opportunities for education and livelihoods.

The stages and the process consists of flight and border crossing (flight from their country which is unable or unwilling to provide protection), asylum application, asylum proceedings (examination of applications by states) and solutions, which may result in return, integration or resettlement to the 3rd country.

Local integration is a mutual process. Important components in this process are: language, education, employment and opportunities.

The Messenger had a chance to interview a family from Yemen - asylum seekers in Georgia at the moment, expecting the further status.

Yemen has been through a civil war between the forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

The family of 6 currently resides in Varketili, renting a flat there. Asylum seekers do not receive any monthly allowances according to Georgian Legislation.

The parents Ė Raed Abdulkareem Ali Al-Dhamari and Ebtesam Lufti Ali al-Dhamari Ėcitizens of Yemen, who were born in Saudi Arabia, visited Yemen in 2013 for the last time.

After that, they lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. But later, they had to leave the country with their 4 children (ages of 14, 13, 10, and 6).

Raed Abdulkareem Ali Al-Dhamari briefly told the background story of the family:

-We are from Yemen. The situation has become more difficult there due to the war. We have lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for certain period of time. We were no longer able to stay and work in Saudi Arabia either because our residence permit was withdrawn.

We had to look for a new asylum. We were not able to return to Yemen, the war is still going on in our city. We started thinking, where could we go with our children.

We chose Georgia for several reasons. On the one hand, it is a safe place and on the other hand, there was no need to get a visa to come here. This way we could avoid obstacles.

-What information did you have about Georgia before?

-Whenever we decided to come to Georgia, we started gathering information about the country. We were trying to read as much as possible about Georgia and we discovered that it is a very beautiful place. And at the same time, it is a modern country which continues its development.

Thatís why we arrived here, trying to start all over.

-Were your expectations met?

-A lot of people, including my friends, kept telling us that we would have to face difficulties on the border. However, we did not have to face any problems at all.

The main reason for us coming here was the safety of our 4 children. Their safety and peace is of the utmost importance to us. We want them to have a better life than we did in Yemen.

-Do you have any relatives back home? What is the situation there like?

-We donít have any relatives left in Yemen. Generally, the situation is very bad there. It is not safe there. UN has also mentioned the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen.

Except for the war issues, I have some personal problems in Yemen. And even if the conflict is solved right away, I am not sure whether I am able to go back. I used to have some political problems in my country.

-Has there been a fear of persecution back home?

-I used to form part of certain organizations in Yemen, which worked on various social issues.

One of the members of my organization was killed, which, in my opinion was connected to his involvement and participation in this organization.

This is one of the reasons I donít want to and canít go back to Yemen. I am afraid.

-Whatís your view on the long-term prognosis for your country, do you think that this conflict could ultimately lead to peace?

-I hope the war will end soon, but it is clear, that in the nearest future, it is not going to happen.

-How long have you been here? How difficult was it for you to start a new life? Do you feel that you have integrated socially?

-We arrived here in the beginning of 2018. The first stage was not as difficult, because we had gathered all the information and we knew approximately where we were coming. We did not have to face many challenges in the beginning.

But later, it was more difficult to get along with the living conditions and environment, especially with 4 children.

The lack of employment is also a problem and due to this factor Ė the lack of income. The economic situation in the country creates some challenges as well.

It is worth mentioning that I have come across some forms of racism in this country, of course not very often, but still.

Despite the negative aspects, to sum up, Georgia is a very good country with its people and freedom of expression.

-What is your usual day like?

-My wife takes care of children and is a housewife. I am unemployed right now, as Iíve already mentioned. I always try to go out, meet new people and look for a job. We live off our savings that we collected back in Saudi Arabia.

As for our childrenís integration, we both try to ensure that our children learn some Georgian and we encourage them as much as possible.

Whenever they learn a single Georgian word, they receive a certain amount of money from us. Later on, they buy ice-cream or something else with this money.

-What opportunities would you want to have in Georgia?

-We have a feeling of instability. We do not know if we are going to be in Georgia in the future or for how long we will be staying here. It all depends on our future status and the courtís decision.

Firstly, we need to rent a normal flat, in order to concentrate on our childrenís education later on, so that they can learn Georgian and English. Education is an important component for our family.

I need monthly allowance now, so that I can help my family on my own in the future.

I am thinking about starting a new business in Georgia. I even have some ideas.

-Does not being able to speak English create some barriers?

-Yes. English is an international language and not being able to speak it, causes difficulties.

However, I am trying my best to learn English. We have started learning English recently.

-Has your opinion about refugees changed?

-My opinion has not changed. I used to think that being a refugee is very difficult. It may seem easy, but itís about changing the whole life Ė moving to a new country, changing the cultural environment, etc.

Extreme need is what makes a person become a refugee.

I consider that this issue is worth paying more attention to.