Alia Hasan, a Syrian refugee in Jordan with a disability, shares why she believes, the world has not forgotten the situation and potential of refugees.
“On the last day of the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in Geneva, during the High Commissioner’s speech when he asked all the refugees present to stand up and had everyone do a standing ovation for us, in that moment, I felt appreciated and recognized.
I did not feel like ‘just a refugee’ anymore. In that moment, I was very emotional, I teared up. It meant a lot to me that world leaders and officials were recognizing us and seeing us. I felt strong.
Participating in the GRF was like a reward for me after all my years of hard work and struggles. Coming from Syria 11 years ago all by myself as a person with disability was very difficult.
I had to leave my family when I fled to Jordan, my parents wanted me to leave the remote village in Dara’a that I called home, despite all the challenges I had faced there.
Since I arrived in Jordan, I have not seen my family. When I was an infant, I got Poliomyelitis which is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus, it can cause paralysis.
I lost sense in my entire left side. It was difficult growing up, I was bullied in school but that did not stop me from continuing my education.
I always had a device attached to me from my hip until my foot which enabled me to move. This was worrying me when I traveled to Geneva, because if I lose one piece form the device, I would not be able to move at all, but I made sure to do the required maintenance for the device before I travelled. Nothing would have stopped me from going there.
After I managed to finish high school, I got a diploma, and then worked for five years, then I enrolled in the University of Damascus and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Persian language.
After I arrived in Jordan, I was determined to continue my life and to be as active as I could, which was not easy. I volunteered with the Community Support Committees (CSCs) in Irbid, where I advocate for the rights and protection for refugees with disabilities.
The CSCs are support groups formed at the governorate level where both refugees and host communities work together to promote social cohesion and enhance access to protection for refugees.
When I received my nomination to go to Geneva for GRF, I was very happy.
As I am a very active member of the CSCs, I got the chance to participate in the GRF and other forums for refugees. Before the GRF, I also participated in the International Government Communication Forum in 2022, in which we discussed how to have a better world for refugees.
When I received my nomination to go to Geneva for GRF, I was very happy. There were four other refugees living in Jordan who also participated in the forum, we were part of the discussions on all issues. The most important thing was to come out with the pledges and the plan for refugees in the upcoming years.
The GRF is the world’s largest international gathering on refugees, which is why I wanted to be the true voice of all refugees, but specifically the ones with disabilities, since I know the struggle of being a person with disability, I felt the responsibility to fight for them.
Being part of the GRF was very inspiring, I learned a lot from being there, I learned that my voice matters, and I benefitted from other people’s experiences, too, specifically when I saw the Nansen award winners, which motivated me to work harder for refugees to hopefully receive the award one day in the future.
I met so many people and refugees from around the world, and it made me realise that being a refugee does not mean we are incapable. We have the will to work and be as productive as we are in our home country, and we must do that wherever we are.
The GRF’s results and pledges are very promising, and we are all looking forward to seeing them on the ground, the GRF ignited our hope in the world again and it was a clear sign that the world has not forgotten about us.”
Alia’s story captured by: Batool Ghaith in Amman, Jordan.