Meet Haider, a Syrian Child Living with a Moroccan Journalist in Turkey

'Inshallah, she will help me obtain a visa to go and live with my father like all other children'

Hundreds of Syrians have been denied visas to enter Morocco, even those who have first-degree relatives there who have been long-term residents of the country.

Haider is an 11-year-old from the city of Homs; his mother is no longer alive. Haider’s father, whose new wife is a Moroccan living in Morocco, tried to bring his son but Haider was left astray at the airport because the local authorities refused his entry.

“When we were in the Moroccan airport, no one helped me and they did not allow me to enter the country because I did not possess a visa,” said Haider, according to a video clip on YouTube. He said he was trapped at the airport for four consecutive days.

Buthaina Athabi, a Dutch journalist of Moroccan origin, heard Haider’s story on the Internet. Since last June, she had searched for him, eventually finding him at the airport and bringing him to Turkey. Athabi now takes care of Haider while communicating with the Turkish and Moroccan authorities to convince them to allow his entry to Morocco.

Describing his life with Athabi, Haider said: “She (Buthaina) allows me to go down to play with my friends and takes me on tours around the city. Inshallah, she will help me obtain a visa to go and live with my father like all other children.”

In a video posted on social networks in mid-August 2014, Haider appealed to King Mohammed VI of Morocco to grant him a visa to enter the country; however, there has been no response yet. On August 20, the monarch expressed his sorrow because he has had to impose visa restrictions on Syrians and Libyans “to protect the security and stability of his country.”

The number of Syrian immigrants who settled in Morocco in 2014 reached nearly 5,250, becoming the second most numerous group of immigrants, according to a report recently released by the Moroccan Ministry of Interior.

Human rights organizations, including the Syrian Network for Human Rights, emphasized that the countries in the Maghreb region have the poorest record of receiving Syrian refugees as they impose restrictions to block the refugee’s entry.

This article was translated and edited by The syrian Observer.



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