Through word of mouth that it was now possible to safely cross into the European Union via the Belarus-Poland border, he saw an opportunity. He immediately booked a plane ticket to the Belarusian capital Minsk. With a state monthly salary of just $30, barely enough to feed his family of four, he hoped this was his chance to provide them with a better life.
Leaving his family in Syria, he traveled in October with four friends to Minsk via Beirut in Lebanon. At first, everything went smoothly, and they easily made it to the border with Poland. But there the group encountered Belarusian border guards who aggressively beat them before shoving them under the barbed wire border fences into Poland. “They hit us, my friend broke his nose, they took our money, they took our passports, they took everything,” he says