1 Feb 2013

A Syrian refugee's story of her flight to freedom

The story of Syrian refugee Marwa and her desperate flight to freedom – she spoke to Channel 4 News Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Miller.

Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller reports from the rescue of Syrian refugees telling the story of a mother-of-four called Marwa.  She was the one in the crimson coat, who was crying as she crossed into Jordan.

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Later, in the tent at Katiba Jaber, once she’d recovered a bit, she spoke to us about life in her village and her desperate flight to freedom.  In the interview, her eyes were brimming with tears, as her young children clung to her skirt.

(You may find this transcript distressing)

This is her story:

When we left our house to run to a shelter we had to walk on bodies and severed heads. There were bombs everywhere and planes overhead. That this has happened to the Syrian people is catastrophic.  Houses were destroyed; people were killed, and for what? Just for him to hold onto power: its not worth it.

Everyone fled. And as we were coming here, we were walking on our own blood.

They went into the house of my husband’s cousin and they burned him alive. Then they came to our house and set fire to it. My brother-in-law’s clinic as well. They burned everything. There’s nothing left. Only destruction. I don’t care. I just care about my children. Thank God, we arrived safely.


My husband has a shop. The security forces went in and stole everything. They came into our house and burned it. We are homeless. We’ve had enough of the planes over our heads. I had to pay a lot of money to treat my son because of these planes. As we were coming here they bombed us four times. Everyone was crying – people of all ages. We don’t want anything except our security. Damn him and his power.

We are not asking for anything except our freedom. To ask for freedom is not wrong. Everyone wants their freedom. God will punish him. God will punish him. God will punish him.

Everyone was dead. My husband’s entire family was killed. There are burials everyday in Bosra al-Sham. Sometimes six or seven, sometimes as many as 12. They are having to retrieve the bodies from the streets with ropes. Even now there are still bodies in the streets. I swear to God, when we left there were bodies littering the streets.

The security forces forced their way into our house. I told them they would find nothing here. He just pushed me away. He told me “Bashar is the master of your masters. Get out of the house or we will burn it with you inside”. I got out and they set fire to our house.

After they set fire to our house my son came and said to the one of the security men, “no uncle, please”. And he told my child, “you are all terrorists”. I asked him “my son is a terrorist?” And he answered “yes. Bashar is your master. You have no choice. You, the Sunnis, we want to wipe you out”. Honestly that is what he said to me.

We were searching for my husband’s cousins… we thought that the security forces had arrested them. Then we went into the house and there was a terrible smell. We found their bodies in a water tank. One had been shot in the head, another in the stomach. They were just left in the tank. Another one was tied up and burned.  If I had a camera I would show you everything.

Men won’t leave the country in this state. There is no work. Anyone who wants to work has been slaughtered by the regime. No-one can feed their children. Most of the people fled because their family needs to eat and drink. They arrested all the young men and snipers shoot at children.

Yesterday, a child like my son was shot and was lying in a petrol station. They had to retrieve his body with a rope. All these people left because they are afraid. All that we are asking for is freedom. The word freedom. Freedom has its price but this is too much.

The security forces stopped a bus and arrested about 200 women. Most of them were going to work. We don’t know what happened to them. 200 women… we don’t know where they are, even now. And the men, who are bringing food home, they were shooting them dead as they crossed the street.

My neighbour was putting her clothes out to dry and a bomb landed nearby. It blew her head off. Really, you go to houses and find blood here and decapitated heads. It’s madness. This is the life that Bashar wants our children to live. This is a childhood? A bloody childhood. A childhood of bombs, warplanes, explosions. Today as we left Bosra, they fired about 200 shells at us in just one hour. These weapons would be better used trying to get back the Golan Heights rather than firing them at us.

That’s enough.

Follow @millerC4 on Twitter.