Qusai's story: from Syria to Netherlands

In search of a better life in Europe, Qusai managed to cross the sea to reach Greece despite being tied to a wheelchair. The story of his journey from Syria to the Netherlands appears in a video produced by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

"I took my decision to travel to Greece in 48 hours. We were 45 persons on the boat. For me, it was very terrible because they threw my wheelchair into the water". 


This is the dramatic tale of Qusai Al Rifai, 31, from Syria, who defied his disability and left his country in search of a better life in Europe. 

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has gathered his testimony in a video. 

"The water reached almost to my chest" 

"I have some sort of disorder, it's about bones. My bones can be very easily broken", says Qusai, who is tied to a wheelchair. "After the war broke [out] in Syria, I was so desperate. I started to think that I don't have any more chances to follow my life," he says. Then he decided to leave the country and try to reach Greece by boat. 

"I was the shortest one", he continues. "The water reached almost [to] my chest for 3.5 hours". His courage and determination are rewarded and he managed to reach the coast of Europe. 

"I feel that I'm at home for the first time" 

Qusai now lives in the Netherlands as a result of the EU relocation programme. "I entered the Relocation programme after I spoke with a lot of friends in Europe. After 3.5 months they gave me the positive answer that I had been accepted. It was unbelievable", he says in the IOM video. "My life has totally changed to the best. I have more chances to follow my studies. Also, to feel that I'm self-dependent for the first time in my life and that's really wonderful feeling for me". 

Qusai leaves home on his own, he goes shopping and to school. "For all this, I'm very grateful. I couldn't find it in my own country but I found it here. I feel that I'm at home for the first time".