Basheer Alzalaan, a Syrian refugee now living in Germany and working for CARE, reflects on the war in Syria and its impact on his family:
The last one to leave was my mother. I have not heard from her in almost a week and I do not know if she is still alive.
I fled to Germany on New Year’s Eve 2014.
Militant groups had taken over, executed hundreds of members of my tribe, and I feared for the lives of my pregnant wife and my two daughters. Bombs dropped on a daily basis, I lost count of how many friends and relatives died.
As a male in my late twenties, various militia groups were targeting me. Many of my friends who decided to stay were killed. In the following months, my parents told me about public crucifixions, hangings and people who were pushed into graves and buried alive. I was in constant fear for the lives of my family – there was no medical help and hardly any running water or electricity.
I walked for days, endured a perilous boat crossing to Greece and passed through the dangerous transit zone in the Balkans.
After waiting months to obtain a visa, my wife and children also journeyed on a rickety boat and were lucky to arrive before borders were closed.
I keep reading in the news: the war in Syria is almost over and there is no more violence. But the messages and videos I receive from friends back home tell a different story.
Airstrikes and bombings happen every day. A few days ago, one of my cousins was captured by a military group. Another stepped on a landmine whilst trying to seek safety. They camp in the desert, shovel grave-like holes to sleep in and cover themselves with blankets and clothes to protect from the heat and the cold.
The last message I received from my mother was that she and my sister were passing the Euphrates River, on the edge of town.
I hear from family and friends, some of whom have fled many times around the country, who have escaped unimaginable horrors and who are now trapped once again.
The war is not over. On the contrary, in my home, in Deir ez-Zor, the situation is worse than ever.
I hope for international humanitarian law to be abided. I hope an immediate ceasefire will save the lives of my friends and their families who are still there.
And more than anything, I hope I hear from my mother and sister. I hope they are alive and have escaped the war zone.
Basheer is one of more than 5 million Syrians to have fled their home country since the conflict started more than six and a half years ago. You can make a difference to the lives of people like Basheer by donating to CARE’s Syrian Crisis Appeal.