Anwar replies – an interview

It is clear that the refugees living in the Dome have received a warm welcome in Arnheim-West. Nevertheless, there are also neighborhood residents who have difficulty with some issues. I have submitted a number of their remarks to Anwar Manlasadoon who fled Syria. Anwar is 25 years old and has had a weekly column in the Gelderlander for some time.

Q.: I have no problem that the refugees were welcomed by local residents, but it was a bit over the top with all those balloons. It was not a party after all? A.: It may not have been a party, but for most of the new residents of the Dome it is a relief that after a long journey we finally had a roof over our heads. We felt very welcome by the balloons.

Q.: I do not feel safe in the dark when I walk from the bus stop with all those groups of men at the Dome. I sometimes think of Cologne, where Arab men have harassed young women. A.: We have a culture where we live outside. I know the co-residents of the Dome have no evil intentions. The reason they go out is because they feel locked up. That we go in groups also has an advantage for us. Some of us do not speak Dutch or English yet. They are afraid to be addressed and do not understand. It is terrible what happened in Cologne. But it turned out afterwards that most of the men were from North African countries and there few refugees were involved. Most of the refugees abhor the behavior of these men in Cologne. It is a pity that this group of people ruined it for the other refugees. But the worst is of course for the victims. I hope that this kind of thing will not happen again.

Q.: All those men are wimps. Who is leaving his wife and children behind in a war zone? A.: Most men go ahead to provide a safe crossing for their family. After arrival they can make a request for family reunification. That this would take a long time afterwards, most refugees did not expect. They prefer to take the risk themselves on a boat to cross the sea with all the dangers of this crossing. The journey is also expensive. People have to sell their house or borrow money for the crossing. They can not afford this for the whole family. Believe me, most refugees take this risk because there are no other options left.

Q.: There is more junk in the vicinity of the Dome. A.: That is indeed annoying. It does not belong there either. I do not know why some people do not clean up their junk. A number of residents also speak to each other about this. I will definitely bring it to the attention again. I hope for the neighborhood that this will become less over time.

Q.: Why do all those men get free bikes? Many welfare families would also like that. A.: Even as a refugee you sometimes have to go somewhere. To the hospital, the GP, dentist and the city. For most people, public transport is expensive and the purchase of a bicycle too. The bikes were second-hand. We were very happy with it. Many refugees can not even cycle. Now we can learn it.

Q.: How do some refugees dare to complain about the food? A.: If you just enter an other country, it takes a lot of getting used to other food. You must also learn to eat things. We have been given the same five microwave meals over he past seven months. For sure we would cook ourselves, just as the average Dutchman.

Q.: Why do refugees no longer do something for Dutch society? Can they roll up their sleeves anyway? A.: Most refugees would really want that. But as long as you do not have a status as a refugee, you can not do much. You can not go to school or work. There are indeed initiatives shown. For example, with volunteer work to help older people. A few guys, including myself, have helped with sorting second-hand clothing. We also help people living in the area in the neighborhood during the weekend.

Q.: Refugees with a good education will soon pick up jobs, while in the Netherlands there are a lot of unemployed people. A.: First we have to go to school to learn the language. Of course, most refugees want paid work. If we all have to beg in the streets, that would not be good either. Then people say that refugees do not want to work and live the state. I hope that there is enough work for everyone in the Netherlands. For you but also for us. Not to become rich, but to live.

Q.: Refugees are simply assigned houses, while there are many people waiting for a house in the Netherlands. A.: We find it very annoying for people who have been waiting for a house for a long time. Of course I would like to give them a home. For us, a home is important for a safe feeling and a roof over our heads. It really does not have to be quite luxury. Many of us have their homes in their own country or have to sell for the journey to a safe haven. Should I be assigned a property, I would like to invite a student to live in my house.

Anwar finally says: “I would like to invite these residents to join the conversation and in this way get understanding for each other. I quite understand the concerns of many Dutch people and hope to be able to take that away.”

The warm regards to all Dutch people from Anwar Manlasadoon.

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