The world’s situation is getting so complex and difficult that we can hardly decide which  of the many conflicts to gaze.

The war in Syria has taken on greater prominence when its effects have endangered or exposed positions and agreements between some countries that reckoned they would not have to review so soon. Perhaps, for reasons of ego, they had not anticipated the factor of unpredictability, even if the shaky  relationships between them had always been known by all.



Aní fled the war and has become a valuable professional in our society. Image: Maribel Maseda.

I talk to Aní, an Armenian refugee who arrived in Spain some years ago fleeing the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, “the hardest thing for me was leaving my house that night knowing I would never see it again; from one day to next; it is as if everything you have lived since birth had been ripped off from your heart”.

She wants to remain anonymous. She doesn’t  want to be stigmatized for her background, and although she claims  to have received altruistic aid from the Spanish people, en route to a “ safe haven”, she has also experienced rejection and distrust. The recurrence of wars exposes the world’s ability to negotiate life matters. But the world escapes from the hands of citizens, who can only hope that their leaders possess that capability. But it also makes them aware that the distant is not always synonymous with the alien. And the question arises as to “why has it happened and what else will next happen?” for the fear of “could it happen to us?”.

Reality goes far beyond what one could imagine reading, listening or watching interrelated news. Aní was lucky in being able to finish her studies while she kept fleeing  “I did not ask for work in my profession; I simply asked for the opportunity to have a job, any job; I had a baby of months and had to feed her “.

Once a refugee leaves her life behind her, she must wait for  an opportunity to cope with the new circumstances that will shape her life from that moment on: the language, customs, bureaucratic and legal requirements, home, family , a deteriorated health throughout much uncertainty and adversity … but even before getting to this, she has to leave the middle ground where she finds herself. Because today the Syrian refugees are waiting in the middle of everything and nowhere to have that opportunity.

 “They all came to the airport as they could; the Blue Helmets were trying to organize it all so as to facilitate the outflow; there were many people driven from their homes, with nothing on except their pajamas and slippers, hoping that they would be accepted on a flight. If we stayed, they could kill us at any time”.

Aní recalls that, in some of the countries she went through, the existence of centres of reception and shelter offered certain basic guarantees of survival. However, in some others there were none and one had to draw on one’s own fighting spirit and strength to overcome every day hardships.

The reality of refugees includes the certainty  that for a long time they may no longer have autonomy, nor  free choice in the next minute of their lives; they are going to need the willingness of others to help them survive.

Today Aní is perfectly settled  into Spain and hopes that her application for citizenship will be approved. She knows that integration requires  renouncing sadness for her losses and she doesn’t talk about it. She has the posibility to look forward to the future and thanks to the opportunity some gave to her, in one of those turns of life, others might have a better life thanks to her own actions.

Sheltering is not just let it be. The magnitude of the suffering of Syrian refugees can be told without mentioning the factors that entangle the understanding of the problem; without using versions of one or the other country; without resorting to treaties, pacts, states or governments. Without terminologies that specialize a situation that should be a global issue and that returns the control of human rights to areas that are very distant to citizens.

But for a refugee to be able to tell that on her way she found the help of unknown people, we must know about their existence. We should dare to try even when one believes that for a lack of understanding about politics, or for not believing in it, or fot not knowing which version to accept as valid, one cannot become involved in humanitarian aid and solidarity as essential response to any catastrophe, the latter being what really defines human evolution. Try, even if one knows that the real solution would require attitudes that today might be identified as pure demagogy, after all confidence has been lost.

The drama of Syrian refugees now occupies the top places in the political agendas but unfortunately it does not seem to be primarily due to humanitarian reasons. The average citizen wonders how it was possible to reach such a situation of disorganization and international disconnection. As it is, the motto “every man for himself” seems to be written with invisible ink behind the commitments, which usually arrive amid the citizen’s own attempts to discern how much of what is told is real and objective, which part is required by interests known to all, and what is for the real and humanitarian solution. Trying to understand the conflict  involves a tangled history which starts out of an international crowd where nothing is what it seems and where onfidence is as fragile as it is conditioned.

Meanwhile, thousands of women, men and children who have their aspirations for a better life, their projects to be carried out, their contributions to offer to society if given the chance, having lost everything, even their own names, have all come to be called the same: refugees. And in this huge group, nothing is of any use, neither their identity  nor whatever they thought they would do in the future.

From now on, life for them is a concession. Solutions are interwoven on the basis of invisible to many but solidly recorded debts that will reinforce the consequences of the loss of roots, of their identity and, with it, their rights as human beings.

We must dare to look beyond the complexity created. Otherwise, thousands, millions of people will be hidden behind it.

The ignorance of the reality of such conflicts  allows the impunity with which they are generated to develop and recur.

Maribel Maseda has a Nursing Degree, is a consultant psychiatrist and expert in techniques of self-awareness. She is the autor of Talk to Me, The Initiatory Board, and The Safe Zone.

Translated by Arturo Guillén.