“When she was born, we were told to go to the Syrian consulate so she could get a passport,” says Hassan Nasser, the baby’s father. The consulate informed us that we needed to wait for six months and pay 300 euros to get it. We don’t have that money."
The Syrian passport is a prerequisite for her to acquire a Turkish residence permit. So far, she has neither of these two documents.
Last May, when Nasser was still awaiting Zein's arrival, he, his wife, and thier three children were living in a basement flat in Kilis. Now, the place feels smaller and gloomier, because there are 13 people living there. Last summer, his cousin and family moved in after fleeing from Egypt, where the security forces had raided their house. “We don’t have financial resource" to keep up such a large household, Nasser sighs. "Yesterday I had to ask a Syrian in the neighborhood for money. It’s a loan."
Struggling to pay the rent, the family has been asked to leave by the end of December, but Nasser can’t work, mainly because he injured his back when he jumped from a third floor while escaping from the Syrian security forces in 2011.
Turkey was supposed to be a refuge; he received psychological treatment in a specialized project supported by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in collaboration with the Turkish NGO Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA). He now goes to a hospital in his neighborhood, where he is still being tested to determine whether he needs to undergo surgery to fix his back problems. His wait continues and he still finds it difficult to walk.
Distressed, Nasser expresses little hope for the future. His problems are piling up at the basement flat and his physical pain linger. Nostalgia seems to be his only escape: “Every day I watch TV to see what’s going on in Syria,” he says, and he often talks via Skype with his mother, who’s still in Syria. She has only seen her new granddaughter on a computer screen.
“I am sad because my brothers and my mother always ask for the baby and haven’t been able to meet her in person,” Nasser says.
“I feel sad,” he says, looking at his baby. “But even if over time we got Turkish nationality, we would never drop the Syrian one, because that’s our origin.”
In Turkey, MSF is supporting, in collaboration with the local NGO Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA), a clinic with an average of 170 monthly consultations and a mental health project for Syrian refugees in the city of Kilis.