Through theater, Syrian refugees recount migration, look to Europe

Fri Dec 4, 2015 12:49pm EST
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By John Davison

BEIRUT (Reuters) - In a small studio in central Beirut, more than a dozen refugee women from Syria dash about barefoot as they rehearse a play about their experiences as war migrants.

"We get to a new country ... people stare at us," one actress says while others put on the disdainful looks they got on reaching Lebanon after fleeing civil war across the border.

"Finally we find a home. We open the door and there's rubbish everywhere. The room is full of cockroaches," they chant in unison, stamping on the imaginary insects.

Those experiences, which the women acted out at a Beirut theater on Thursday evening, were at the start of the war more than four years ago. Many refugees still had savings then and hoped their exile would be temporary.

But with life getting worse and no end to the conflict in sight, the dominant theme in the play Terrestrial Journeys - a six-week project organized by British-Iraqi actress Dina Mousawi - is their now longed-for passage onwards to Europe. It was due to hold a second and final performance on Friday evening.

"After years, we've got no choice but to migrate. That's our thinking now," Wessam Sukkari, a 38-year-old Syrian Palestinian refugee from Damascus's Yarmouk camp, said during a rehearsal.

Sukkari's husband traveled to Germany several months ago while she and their two daughters stayed behind in Lebanon.

They hope to join him in future, but not over the dangerous illegal smuggling route he took along with hundreds of thousands of other Syrians landing in Europe this year in a record influx.   Continued...

Syrian refugee women carry sticks depicting crowded wired streets as part of a performance in Beirut December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Alia Haju