Back in 2018 I conducted an interview with a friend from the Afghan community that resides in Syria. Since it is useful to supplement data with additional interviews, I conducted on 16 April 2020 an interview with another friend from the Afghan community residing in Syria.
Q: Could you speak a little about your life? Where were you born? How old are you? What do you do for work currently?
A: I was born in Syria: al-Sayyida Zainab. I am 30 years old. Work currently is suspended because of the health quarantine. We were living before the war in the area of Ali al-Wahsh near al-Sayyida until the war began and we were displaced. Our state of affairs is the state of affairs of all and now we live east of the shrine.
Q: Can you speak about the Afghan community in general in Syria? From which countries they come and when did they come?
A: The Afghan families are of three types:
1. The ones who came around 200 years ago, residing in the areas of Bayt Sahm, al-Sana'a and al-Baramaka.
2. The ones that departed Iraq in the 1970s for Syria and they are mostly present in the al-Sayyida area and the areas near it.
3. The ones that came from Iran around 10 years ago more or less. Their presence is also in al-Sayyida.
Q: Has the number of Afghan families increased since the beginning of the war or have some of them left for other countries? Have any fighters from the Fatemiyoun come to reside in Syria?
A: Since the war began many of the families have migrated to the states of Europe and some of them have returned to Iran. As for the Fatemiyoun, not one of them has come to reside in Syria. With regards to them, the Arabic language is difficult and they have not been able to acclimatize.
Q: How is life for you in general? What are the biggest challenges and problems for you? Would you like to return to Afghanistan? Do you have Syrian nationality? Or the Syrian government won't give you Syrian nationality?
A: Life in general is now difficult for all not just for us. We Afghans, our state of affairs is the state of affairs of our Syrian brothers. We suffer from the expensiveness and rise of prices as this is a tourist area.
And as for your question would I like to return to Afghanistan? Frankly no, because I was born here and raised here and I like to live here despite the difficulties. Syria is a beautiful country and its people more beautiful. We have never felt as foreigners in Syria because the Syrians deal with us as brothers. They have never regarded us as being refugees or strangers. Therefore all people like the Syrian people and Syria.
As for Syrian nationality, I do not have it and we are not given the nationality as per Syrian law.
Q: Have any people from the Afghan community in Syria fought in defence of the shrines and country? What is the number of martyrs among them?
A: Some of the youth have fought in defence of the shrines and the country in which we were born and we studied and from whose bounty we have eaten. Some have fought, others have not fought, and this goes back to the individual person himself. The number of Afghan martyrs if I am not mistaken is 12, among them those who were martyred on the fronts and those who were martyred in mortar attacks on the area.