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Willem de Haan (text) Tag

“I don’t sleep much, I lie awake”

The view from his living room on the ninth floor of the Aquamarijnflat is fantastic: the Gravenburg district, the meadows, and beyond it lies Aduard. Impressive clouds and a great sunset when the skies are clear. The bathroom even has a bathtub. Alan Abdo, now 27, has been lucky, so it seems. He has been living here since September 2016....

The view from his living room ...

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“The police officer said: ‘Okay, just drive on.’ Seriously! Unbelievable!”

Last week, the two brothers Youssef (18) and Mohamed Nour (22) Alagha decorated the Christmas tree. It stands in the corner at the window in a jar filled with sand and wrapped in a plastic Aldi bag. Christmas baubles and coloured lights. “We are actually Muslims, but in Damascus we would sometimes see a Christmas tree at Christian people’s homes....

Last week, the two brothers Yo...

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“We grew up in a dictatorship. When people need you they are your best friends, but for the rest we grew up in distrust.”

Mohammed Al-Mansour is having a bad month: "My grandmother died in Syria. I basically grew up with her, she was like a mother to me. She had problems with her heart and that’s what killed her. There’s no medical care in Deir ez-Zor anymore, that's the problem." He was distracted, cried sometimes – "not many tears, but a few," – and...

Mohammed Al-Mansour is having ...

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“Then I explain that this phone is a necessity, my lifeline with my family.”

His bicycle is inside, behind the front door of his apartment in the Oosterpark neighbourhood. Complete with big panniers and all. The walls and ceiling of his apartment are painted a crisp white, and there is new laminate on the floor. Cabinets and tables are from the thriftshop, but the red three-seater sofa is new. “In Syria I would’ve had...

His bicycle is inside, behind ...

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“What fear is? Not knowing if you’ll still be there tomorrow, or if your family and the house will still be there.”

“What fear is? Fear is when today everything seems fine, everything is quiet, but out of the blue a bomb can fall. Not knowing whether or not you’ll be alive tomorrow, or wounded, not knowing if your home and family will still be there. That’s what it is to be afraid. That you could be dead tomorrow. Especially in Aleppo,...

“What fear is? Fear is when ...

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“The children miss me and cry. I cry too.”

“I get excited when I see a bus. I want to sit behind the wheel myself! If you can handle a big bus like that, you feel, how should I say this, you feel like a real man, right? In Syria I drove coaches with tourists. We drove Germans, Belgians, French people, Americans, British and Dutch people. In the Middle...

“I get excited when I see a ...

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