A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut

A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut
Al-Arab was surprised to stumble across the refrigerator that he had left behind in Bab Sabaa in a Beirut store. (File/Getty Images)
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Updated 25 October 2020

A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut

A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut
  • I checked the fridge well. I recognized it from a distinguishing mark in one of its lower corners: Al-Arab
  • He said that when he brought the fridge home, his wife screamed and cried, and so did his daughter

BEIRUT: Mohammed Al-Arab, a Syrian refugee, was displaced from Bab Sabaa in Homs (30 kilometers northeast of the Lebanese-Syrian border) to Beirut as war raged in his country.
He left his house and shop in July 2012, after he and his family were displaced due to the bombing, deciding to seek refuge in Lebanon until the war ended.
Eight years have passed since the displacement; Al-Arab settled in Beirut, rented a home for his family in the Corniche Al-Mazraa area, and resumed his work as a plumber. Years passed, and his children grew older.
“A few weeks ago, my wife told me we needed a freezer. I went to a store that sells electrical appliances in a working-class neighborhood in Beirut.” Whilst there, he was surprised to stumble across a refrigerator — the one he and his family had left behind in Bab Sabaa.
“I froze. I was unable to speak. It was like someone I had seen someone I thought was dead,” he told Arab News. “I remembered the day I bought this fridge in Homs — it cost me 40,000 Syrian pounds, the equivalent of $800 at the time. Its brand is Al-Joud, made in Syria and manufactured in Lattakia. I checked the fridge well. I recognized it from a distinguishing mark in one of its lower corners. I asked the seller about the price and, after some bargaining, managed to buy it for 580,000 Lebanese pounds ($380).
Al-Arab said that when he brought the fridge home, his wife screamed and cried, and so did his daughter. “My wife said: ‘This fridge is a symbol of our suffering, our weariness and our lives. We bought it at a time when we were enjoying stability in our country and the roof of a home we owned protected us,’” he added.
The family home was “destroyed by bombing that demolished the ceilings and walls, and there was no trace of furniture inside the house and no goods in the shop, according to the pictures that relatives sent us after the war in the area subsided,” Al-Arab said. “That means that the stuff was stolen before the destruction. What survived the theft was my car that I parked in front of my wife’s family home, far from the area of the clashes.”
Al-Arab refused to reveal the identity of the merchant who sold him the fridge, and Arab News tried to follow the path of this fridge and how it got to Beirut.
Syrian refugees have many stories of stolen goods and their sale. Jumah, a young greengrocer from Idlib who works in Lebanon, said: “Syrians who fled from Aleppo to Idlib to escape the battles were surprised after a period of time that the contents of their homes were sold in public markets in Idlib.”
Sami, a young Lebanese from the Bekaa, said: “During the years of war in Syria, the stolen goods from nearby areas to the Lebanese borders were smuggled into Lebanon and displayed in Bekaa towns for sale. Among these stolen goods were tractors, windows, home furniture and electrical tools.”
Dr. Hadi Murad is a physician and activist in the field of combating smuggling medicine across the Lebanese-Syrian border. Murad, who lives in Brital on the border with Syria, said: “All villages and towns on the common border between Lebanon and Syria, specifically the towns of Nabi Chit, Brital, and Al-Khader, are crossings for all types of smuggling. More than 50 percent of the illegal crossings are in this region, and are protected by Hezbollah.”
Al-Arab does not care much about the thefts that occurred. For him, this matter has become of secondary importance. The priority is to know the fate of missing people instead.
“Our pain is much greater than the issue of thefts,” he said. “The Syrian people are exhausted. Our children are left without education, and no one can protect us in the countries (we have emigrated to). We are left to our destinies, without medical care nor education, nor do we know the fate of the missing in Syria. The father of my brother-in-law left his home and disappeared; my cousin left his home to buy a bundle of bread and never came back. Many tragedies have not been written yet.”