Update from Latakia, Syria

Latakia Update from a resident there for the last 19 years ~

“Latakia, Syria update: we have no cooking gas; we have no gasoline for cars; we have no diesel heating fuel for home heaters. We have electricity 3 hours in morning, and 3 hours in early evening. The electricity goes off at 8 pm and comes back at 11 pm, but by then most have gone to sleep.

There is plenty of food, but the prices are 5 times higher than last year. Many people are on a vegetarian diet. The pharmacies have medicine, but not always the type or brand name you request. We have to use what there is available.

The schools and University are functioning and free, but there are no school books, because the printing industry is gone, or damaged, or the paper is not available.

The hospitals and clinics are functioning and normal services.

Latakia has 2 million displaced persons staying here. They are mainly from Aleppo and Homs. There is still free charity food available here.

Kassab continues to be unsafe, with terrorists in the countryside on the Turkish border. The international border at Kassab is still closed (since March 21, 2014). Kassab does not have all services restored, and only a few residents returned of the original 2,000 population.

Each family in Kassab got a gift of about $200.00 from a church in USA, and the Armenians living in Dubai sent money to Kassab for diesel heating oil (which we don’t have access to anymore). Kassab gets snow from Christmas to March. The Syrian Armenian Relief Fund in Glendale, CA collected $900,000.00 and sent it to Beirut, to the church HQ there. However, none of that money came to Kassab. I am investigating that issue and hope to find some money for Kassab.

There were ships sailing from Latakia to Mersin, Turkey taking persons to the smugglers there, and then they would pay about $3,000.00 to the smugglers, then take unsafe boats to Europe, via Greece. However, the boats have been stopped, after it was determined the Turkish passenger ship from Latakia to Mersin did not meet international ship safety. The ship company was called DONIKAN. They had been advertising on the Syrian TV channels and many people left from here on that ship.

The people in Latakia are planning how to leave, and which country to go to. Mainly they are going to Sweden and Germany. If they want to leave legally, they can go to Beirut, Lebanon and take a 5 hour boat ride to Mersin, Turkey. Then they will take the illegal boats from Turkish smugglers to Greece. They get off in Athens, take a train going to Italy, then in Milan they have a tented camp, and from there the next train ride to Germany. Germany is putting them all in a far removed wooded forest location in a ‘compound’ type place. They are supposed to learn German language and then get a job and some money for food and place to stay. So far, I have many relatives who have done this, but they say they will have to come back to Syria, because the expenses are so great in Germany they can not afford to eat there.

I am sure I don’t have all the details or understanding, but from comments I keep hearing here, the European Union has no standard legal policy for Syrian refugees. Apparently, each person goes on their own, and the crucial payment is given to Turkish mafia for the boat ride. Once in Europe, for example Greece, there was not any welcoming program, or provisions made. I can foresee that Syrian migrants will be the new thieves and ‘gypsies’ of Europe, because there is no standard policy of what to do with these hopeless people. Poverty breeds theft and crime.”

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