“Curaçao doesn’t know what to do with refugee”
WILLEMSTAD - Aktham Abu Fakher is the only Syrian refugees on the island. Because appropriate legislation is lacking, he was treated as illegal. He has been in the immigration barracks SDKK prison without anyone listening to his story. The Red Cross, which is mandated by the refugee agency of the United Nations (UNHCR) to help refugees, has not visited him. This is according to a report by Dick Drayer.
On January 19 this year Aktham was put ashore at Jan Sofat by a Venezuelan smuggler. Twelve hundred dollars he had to pay for the six-hour boat trip to Curacao. By noon, a bus driver took Aktham to the police station in Punda. At the counter he asked for political asylum. “I thought, Curacao is part of the Netherlands, here I am safe. But then the nightmare began.”
The officers at the Bureau in Punda did not know what to do with him. They decided to keep him as an illegal alien and took him to immigration. There, too, it was not initially clear what had to happen. No one has listened to the story of Aktham. Head of Department sent him to the barracks of the illegal aliens at the prison. Aktham stayed there for almost three months.
Just one week after he was brought there, someone from immigration came along. For the first time he could talk about his case. To his horror the employee tells him that Curaçao has decided to send him back to Syria. Aktham said they will arrest him there and possibly murder him. “I am an opponent of the Assad regime.” The employee then said to him, “That is better than that you come here to murder us.”
In late March Aktham was able to get in touch with the Islamic community of Curaçao, which mainly consists of people of Lebanese or Syrian descent. Akhtam hmself is not a Muslim, but a Druze, a small religious community with members in Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Syria. “I hope to travel this Thursday or Friday to the Netherlands to seek asylum. Until then I am safe in the mosque.”