Filled with great hope, Moroccan women stranded in refugee camps in Syria, especially at the northeastern al-Hol camp, are patiently waiting for their travel visas to get approved so they can return home.
Al-Hol camp, located some 45 kilometers east of Hasakeh, is sheltering around 1,082 Moroccan women and children.
“My decision to travel was not of my own will. My husband threatened me with my children, forcing me to take this journey and end up living in this place,” Mahira told Asharq Al-Awsat about the story of how she ended up in the war-torn country.
Living in a small makeshift tent alongside her children, the 40-year-old Moroccan national recounted the details of how her life was turned around after her husband decided to join the al-Nusra Front in 2013.
“When I got married 2005, I didn’t notice any signs of extremism in my husband, who was also a Moroccan national,” she said, explaining that her spouse was later moved by violent content shared on social media.
Footage conveying the toll of war in Syria had influenced many sympathizers across the world.
“During the summer of 2013, without any notice, my husband decided that we travel to Turkey. After our arrival there, he informed me that he wants to enter Syria in order to join the al-Nusra Front. He later pledged allegiance to ISIS,” Mahira recounted.
Although she strongly opposed her husband joining the fight in Syria, Mahira was faced with threats that her children will be taken away, eventually making her cave.
“He knew how strongly attached I was to my children. He said he would take them away from me by force, so I agreed,” she noted, adding that she was also physically abused by her husband.
Complaining about the poor access to information and news at the camp, Mahira said that one of her daughters frequently visits an internet café to connect with their relatives back in Morocco.
Speaking about the Moroccan parliament’s initiative to repatriate nationals stuck in Syria, Mahira expressed cautious optimism.
“I hope this news is true, and we can quickly return home,” she said in a low whisper.