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Chapter 2: Waiting in fear

Ram Hiramic writes a diary from the heart of the Syrian war.

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Saturday... an entire day just waiting. I haven’t slept since last night. Praying. Waiting on tenterhooks for a message or a call from my brothers telling me that they have arrived in Italy.

If it’s like the other journeys they’ve made they should be there today. We are all waiting for that stupid boat carrying my two young brothers, my aunts, my uncle's wife, four cousins and a lot of other strangers. When they all decided to travel they preferred to face the dangers together. My elder brother will take care of the women and younger cousins.

The telephone hasn’t been back on the hook since this morning with all the family calling for news. I’ve been on a special Facebook page waiting for any news of a new refugee boat arriving in Italy. Oh God, how thrilled I will be to hear that they have got there and how ironic to be happy to read the word refugee! What an unfair world!

Everyone on board the boat is a victim in this, too. At least according to the information that I have from all my traveller friends and family. This is not the first time we have seen illegal immigration carried out in this way. The boat’s capacity is about 100 people, but the greedy smugglers stuffed it with 400. That is the horrible reason for the horrifying situations that take place for the seven days the journey lasts. How terrible it must be. I can’t imagine how they must feel, sitting or piling onto each other’s laps with their belongings.

The smugglers always tell the same lies. It’s safe. The boat is big enough. It’s 19 metres high – stuff like that. But when it comes to reality, and at the last minute before they get on board, people are shocked by the boat’s appearance. It’s small, dirty and can hardly float. When some of the travellers, if I can call them that, change their minds at the last minute, the smugglers are ready to threaten them.

My cousin told me once that they had threatened them with guns and said they would not return any money. They also throw bags into the water without asking their owners. One of my friends who took the trip last month lost her laptop, clothes and her new mobile. She even told me that human life means nothing to the smugglers. They see you as their cash cow – they’ll take the money and treat people like animals

This morning one of my relatives in Egypt made contact with the captain of the ship by Thuraya satellite smartphone to check on them. The captain was curt and told him that the waves were very high, the sea very wild and they can’t go any further. They are very near the Italian shore but they can’t get any closer and he is not moving an inch.

I am in a panic rush right now. It’s terrible o feel that there’s nothing you can do. I can picture how they are holding each other, wet, perhaps freezing. I just can’t take this anymore. A Facebook post said that the boat had been there since yesterday at noon and asked if anyone could call the coastguard or the Red Cross to help them.

After a boat sank two days ago we can’t fight off our fears. Mom started crying. Dad is rubbing his hands in silence.

Waiting ..waiting ..

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