Ahmed, his wife Jasmin and their four young children, Reem, Belal, Mustafa and Fatima, are asylum-seekers in Greece, originally from Al-Hamidiyah, Syria. The Mediterranean coastal town on the border with Lebanon was established as an enclave for Muslim refugees from Crete about 120 years ago. Ahmed grew up speaking Greek and he can neither read nor write Arabic.
The family fled to Greece to escape the approaching conflict in Syria. They made their way by boat to the island of Lesvos and then on to the Cretan city of Chania, setting foot in a land Ahmed only knew from stories and songs shared by the elders in his family.
Due to problems with his health, the family have been moved into an apartment and provided with monthly cash assistance under the European Union-funded Emergency Support To Integration and Accommodation (ESTIA) programme, which is run by UNHCR in cooperation with municipalities and NGOs around Greece. In Crete, the programme is implemented by the Heraklion Development Agency.