"Go on TV, Tell Them Not to Take the Boats, the Waves Are too High"

I wake up, put the laptop on my knees, read my emails and Facebook messages and start responding. A Facebook friend has posted an Assyrian/Syriac song about suffering, I listen to it. "What have I done to deserve this?" Suddenly the emotions hit me. My tears are running. Exactly that question has been asked to me by Christians from the Middle East and Egypt so many times that my heart is bleeding. The last couple of days I've had a lot of phone calls from desperate people who believe their relatives have drowned on the sea between Turkey and Greece.

Yesterday we, A Demand For Action, called a Syrian refugee in Södertälje. Our contacts in Greece told us that his wife, 38 years old, and two daughters 11 and 8 years old, probably died in the plight. We wanted to know why he came to Sweden before them and what he escaped from. When was the last time he spoke to his wife? We started by giving our condolences. He was silent. We asked what he knew. He answered that they are on a boat, that he don't know much more at the moment.

Photo: www.maringuiden.se

We whispered among ourselves that he must be convincing himself that they're still alive. That is the only thing he can do before the shock wears off. We looked at each other and cried quietly so that he wouldn't notice. We knew that his wife and girls were stuck below decks when the fishing boat capsized.

We asked him if he needed help with anything or if there was anything we could do for him. He replied that he still hasn't received his residence permit. That he escaped from ISIL and that he managed to do that without being killed. That it was kind of a miracle. He then turned quiet. We wanted to ask more questions, but it wasn't possible. He broke the silence:

"I first came to Italy, thats why I can't stay in Sweden. That's what the Migration board is telling me. That I have to return there."

We responded that he didn't have to return, that Italy has said that he doesn't have to, that they didn't want people back that have been registered there first. That we are going to help him with his asylum case.

"I couldn't take my family here, that's why they are on a boat".

Once again we were quiet. We didn't know what to ask or say. Father Zakay, a monk that helps out on the Greek Islands sends me a message.

"Dear Nuri, You have to go out on all the TV-stations in the world with a warning. It is autumn now and the waves are too high. They cannot take boats, even if they have the best lifejackets on."

We tell the man, whose family might have passed away, that we are going to visit him tomorrow morning. He responds directly that he moves from one relative to another, that he has no permanent residence, that there is no housing and that cost of rents as a secondary tenant are too high.

We tell him that we'd love to meet him in the city (Södertälje south of Stockholm in Sweden) somewhere and then we finish the call. Before meeting him I call a lawyer specialized on Migration, he tells me that we are wrong that the man probably will be deported to Italy. I claim humanitarian reasons to stay, the lawyer promises to have a look on the case.

In a few hours I'm going to meet the man, with the knowledge that his wife and two daughters are stuck under water, that the boat has hit a rock and then just disappeared. The tears are just running.