World

For this Syrian-Ukrainian, Life Is a Sandwich Between Wars

Naji says his friends and family had to flee Kiev to safer places.

Damascus:

From a Syrian-born Palestinian father and a Ukrainian mother, Victoria Naji has given her life in the shadow of the conflict.

The 24-year-old, who lives in Damascus, reached the age of majority in the Syrian war, which celebrates its 11th anniversary on Tuesday, when it destroyed a large part of the country.

A recent graduate in Fine Arts from the University of Damascus, she planned to travel to Ukraine to seek opportunities in her mother’s hometown until the outbreak of war last month.

“I said to myself, ‘I can go to Ukraine in the future.’ “I see war everywhere. There is no safe place for me.”

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Nidal and Irina Naji, parents of Victoria Naji.

The Syrian war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced more than half of the population to flee their homes since protests against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. Assad’s side.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has sent more than 2.8 million people fleeing Ukrainian borders and trapped hundreds of thousands in besieged cities. Russia has called it a “special military operation” to “denazify” the country.

Naji says his friends and family had to flee Kiev to safer places. “God willing, this will not happen to Ukraine,” he said, reflecting on the happy memories of his visits to the country.

Naji’s parents married in 1983 and traveled between Ukraine and Syria before settling in Damascus in 1995. His mother’s grandfather fought in World War II.

On the father’s side, the family fled the town of Nazareth in 1948, when Israel was founded, and 700,000 Palestinians fled or were deported. They were granted citizenship in Syria.

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“I should be happy to live in three countries, but I can’t live in one of them,” Najik said.

Naji has lived in relative security since the start of the war in Syria, in an area outside Damascus that has not been severely damaged. One of his friends came to stay for that reason, after his brother was killed in a bombing, he added.

The main lines of the conflict have been largely frozen for several years. But poverty and hardship are worse than ever since the war broke out.

He spoke of the beginning of the war: “The problem is that when we started these things we were young.”

“We got older and got used to it.”

The invasion of Ukraine is the largest attack on a European state since World War II.

“I’m an artist … I don’t understand why this is happening and I don’t want to understand it, but I have to do it because it’s my cause, like Palestine … and, of course, Syria,” he said. .

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a union feed.)

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