The High Cost of Instability: A Syrian Journalist's Struggle
“The fear of being kidnapped or arrested is with me constantly.”
As a Syrian, I am no stranger to the daily contradictions of life and death.
Unlike hundreds of journalists and activists in the region, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to provide a safe haven in Turkey for my family. There, I can visit and check on their well-being, before returning to report on the harsh humanitarian conditions inside Syria, moving between massacres, airstrikes, camps, and extreme poverty.
"The fear of being kidnapped or arrested is with me constantly."
I live in a strange contradiction. I find myself in the same day surrounded by dead bodies while preparing a TV report about a massacre or a flooded camp, and then leaving for Turkey a few hours later to enjoy a family holiday and trying to have fun with my children and wife, even as the scent of death lingers in my nose.
This situation has had a significant impact on my life throughout the last eight years in which I have been continuously covering these issues.
The situation in Syria is extremely complicated. One of the most significant challenges I face on a daily basis is the fear of moving between areas due to the multitude of parties controlling the land. The fear of being kidnapped or arrested is with me constantly.
I also face challenges working with Syrian and Arab media outlets operating within Syria, due to political funding and imposed agendas that alter all our traditional concepts and standards of journalism.
"Media workers face dozens of challenges in daily life, narrowly escaping death and suffering at every turn."
Another key issue that Syrian journalists face is simply being cheated out of our rightful payment. We have been exposed to many cases of fraud regarding the rights to journalistic work, or financial misconduct by some media outlets outside of Syria due to the absence of any legal protection or the presence of a functioning state.
Due to the impediments facing border crossings between Syria and Turkey, along with the associated difficulties of navigating these crossings, I spend long days away from my family. In most crises that have hit the region, I have not been able to be close to them. Due to the lockdowns and border closures during the spread of Covid-19 in Syria, I had to stay away from my family for six months. My wife and children were left alone to face the pandemic while I had to cover and report this news.
Similarly, on February 6, 2023, I was in the midst of covering events in Syria when the devastating earthquake struck, separating me from my family. My wife and three children survived but were left stranded in the streets of Antakya in Turkey while I was alone with my camera, reporting on the earthquake.
As a Syrian journalist, my profession has exposed me to a great deal of suffering. Media workers face dozens of challenges in daily life, narrowly escaping death and suffering at every turn. But it’s being away from my family during times of crisis, newsworthy events or disasters that can be unbearable, leaving me with a sense of regret and longing.