"Housing? Mission impossible"
Nabil and his wife Fadia both fled Homs in 2012. Exhausted by war, bombs, and misery, the two did not know each other at the time. Today, six years and two children later, they have just settled in Beauraing, Belgium thanks to the solidarity of an owner and the help of Caritas International.
“I fled Homs because I did not want to do my military service,” says Nabil, sitting at the kitchen table of his modest house in Beauraing with Mohammed, his two-year-old son, clinging to his leg. Nabil embraces him tenderly as he speaks, “but if you desert, the government persecutes you. I had to leave. ”
It is the beginning of a strenuous, very long journey to Europe. Nabil goes through Damascus and then Lebanon, where he lived in a refugee camp for a year and there met his wife, Fadia, and the two get married. “It was always cold in the camp and there was not enough food. Everything was difficult. We wanted to leave.” Through false passports, the couple traveled to Algeria and then to Morocco. “You could see it was a forgery,” Nabil said, “but it worked. With all the stamps, a passport costs 2,000 dollars.”
“Mohammed, our son, was born in Morocco, but we did not find work there. For six months, the young family tried daily to cross the border into Spain to overcome the demanding border controls. After many attempts, they succeed and finally entered Melilla, a Spanish enclave in Moroccan territory. From Melilla, they were sent to Barcelona to finally arrive in Brussels. They applied for asylum on Monday morning. Finally, the end of the tunnel is in sight.
Nabil and Fadia were granted refugee status in Belgium at the end of 2015: “We had two months to leave the reception center for asylum seekers and find accommodation.” Finding housing on the rental market, without knowing French, without money, was, in short, mission impossible. “Caritas International has helped us,” says Nabil, “thanks to the Caritas integration coach, we met Catherine and her husband, our landlords, and we were able to settle here.”
“Homeless, it is impossible to ask for an integration income with the CPAS”, comments Séverine, the integration coach who takes care of Nabil and his family, “and without integration income, it is impossible to convince a landlord to rent out his property.” Caritas International makes the link, trying to fill this ‘gap’ between material and financial aid. “We are guarantors and help refugees in their administrative procedures. We also install them in their home, provide basic hygiene kits and cooking supplies as well as a mattress, if necessary. ”
Nabil: “I love the culture and the people here because there is a lot of mutual respect. The people in Beauraing are very hospitable and very respectful. “