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Absence of Syrian University Credentials

by Yahya Al-Abdullah, The Aleppo Project on January 24, 2017

Losing academic records or not being able to retrieve them from public universities in Syria is one of the common problems Syrian students are facing in the host countries. Many refugee students are trying to pursue their studies or equalize their degrees after overcoming the language barrier. However, bureaucracy and administrative regulations are preventing them from doing so. 

(R.B) is a Syrian refugee with a B.A degree in Business Administration. He arrived to Germany in the middle of 2015. He has finished B2 level German which allows him to join a vocational training course in the country but he is preparing for the next language level (C1) to be able to study at university. Unfortunately, (R.B)’s dream to pursue an M.A degree in Germany is on hold because he does not have neither his B.A certificate nor his academic records. We met in a workshop in Berlin and (R.B) wanted to share his story with the Aleppo Project.

On His Own Words:

The story started in 2012 at the beginning of the month of Ramadan when the Free Syrian Army entered the city of Aleppo. I used to live in Salah Al-din area back then and it was one of the first areas that revolted against the regime in 2011 and 2012. I was one of the first people who started who sharing posts on social media and got involved in peaceful demonstrations. I was arrested and tortured several times and finally I was threatened that I would lose my family if I did not keep my mouth shut.

This pushed me to to pause my activist revolutionary work, at least for a while, to keep my family safe.

At that time, I had just bought a new flat in the same neighborhood (Salah Al-din) where my family lived. I finished renovating the flat and painting it. I slowly started buying furniture and moved my personal belongings there. The regime began its military attacks on my area ten days after the Free Syrian Army took control there in July 2012. The attacks were violent and brutal which forced many civilians to leave for more secure areas.  My family decided to stay in our flat in Salah Al-din and I stayed along with them.

At that time, I had already moved most of my personal documents into my own flat and only few official papers were left in my parents’. The military assaults never stopped and a big part of the neighborhood had become dangerous to reach or go to because of the fighting between the Free Syrian Army and the regime forces. Unfortunately, my new flat was in those areas and it was impossible to reach it to get at least my university certificate and other official documents.

While in Salah Al-din, I was keen on documenting the destruction in the area with my smart phone and upload pictures and videos online with a fake account but the regime could track me through my phone number.

When the fights accelerated the rebels told us that it is better to leave the area and go to places that were not on the front line. And one day we had to leave in a rush during a heavy military attack launched by the regime. I was able to bring the few remaining documents at my parents’ flat and not the ones in my own. After that a long journey of internal displacement started in which we had to change our locations seven time within one year! And every time we changed neighborhood due to the regime attacks, I was documenting this on my smart phone.

One day, my mum went to get my father’s salary (may his soul rest in peace) in a regime controlled area and at one of the check points of the regime, they stopped her and starting asking about me. My mum was so scared and she said that she knew nothing. Then they told her that she will stay with them till I show up. She still refused to contact me but of the officer on the check point took her phone from her and called me. He said “if I don’t come to them to that check on my own, my mum will never return home.” I rushed to that place and and I gave myself in to save my mother.

After that, my journey of suffering started in all the intelligence police departments. Finally, my family managed to get in touch with a senior intelligence officer. He agreed to take money from my family to smuggle me to an area outside the regime control. I got out and I just wanted to start my life somewhere else. I went to Turkey and continued my journey to Europe.

My family had to move to a government-controlled area at some point and up to now they are still being harassed by Syrian intelligence forces.

During the time I got out and before managing to leave Syria, I got married and I had a daughter who is 3 years old now. When I left, my wife was pregnant and now I have a 21-month- old son. I have only seen pictures of him. I want to pursue my studies to be able to support my family and provide a better life for my children when they join me in Germany, which will be very soon I hope.

Yahya Al-Abdullah, The Aleppo ProjectAbsence of Syrian University Credentials