News / Middle East

Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program in Germany Begins

A Syrian refugee shows her immigration papers before boarding a flight to Germany for temporary relocation, at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 11, 2013.
A Syrian refugee shows her immigration papers before boarding a flight to Germany for temporary relocation, at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 11, 2013.
VOA News
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says an initial group of vulnerable Syrian refugees is leaving Lebanon for a new life in Germany.

The UNHCR said the 107 Syrians were due to fly to the German city of Hanover on Wednesday. It said they will be granted temporary asylum in the country under a special Humanitarian Admissions Program.

Resettlement program begins

Germany notified the U.N. refugee agency in March that it was prepared to receive up to 5,000 Syrian refugees on a temporary basis this year. The UNHCR said the German relocation program is the biggest of its kind for refugees from the Syria civil war.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said that after the refugees arrive in Germany, they will stay in an accommodation center for two weeks. There, they will be given cultural orientation courses to help them integrate into their new surroundings. Those courses include basic language training and information on Germany.

After that, Fleming said the refugees will leave for their new homes in different parts of the country.

"They will be accommodated in small centers or apartments and will have full access to medical, educational, and other social services. They also have the right to work. This is a scheme under which they will receive residence permits for a period of two years. Should the situation continue unchanged or worse in Syria, then this could be extended," she said.

Map showing Syrian refugee populations.Map showing Syrian refugee populations.
x
Map showing Syrian refugee populations.
Map showing Syrian refugee populations.
Fleming said Austria also has committed to taking 500 Syrian refugees for resettlement this year, while 10 other Western countries have pledged more than 1,650 resettlement places. She said the United States also has indicated that it might be willing to accept an unspecified number of refugees.

Fleming said the UNHCR aims to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees under this temporary humanitarian program by the end of the year and to find 2,000 additional permanent places of resettlement for Syrians in acute need.

She acknowledged that the numbers are small considering the magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis. But, she called it a start.  

The UNHCR estimates that more than two million Syrians have fled their war-torn country. It believes that figure could reach three-and-a-half million by the end of this year.  Four neighboring countries - Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey - are hosting most of the refugees.

Under pressure in Egypt

Several hundred thousand Syrians also have moved to Egypt as a refuge.
 
One of them, Wael Mustafa, arrived in Cairo last year. Within months, he had found work, a place to live and could support his extended family. But, two months after Mustafa last talked to VOA, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a strong supporter of Syria's opposition, was ousted from power by Egypt's military. And everything changed.
 
"After Morsi [was toppled], I saw some Egyptian people look at us like we are not good people, we are bad people," Mustafa said.
 
Under Morsi, Egypt welcomed Syrian refugees as historic allies who backed a popular uprising much like the 2011 revolt that ousted his authoritarian predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. But, those Syrians have faced a backlash since Egypt's military-backed government began cracking down on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement.
 
Activist Haitham Maleh, of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, said hundreds of Syrians in Egypt have been arrested by police or beaten in the streets, while others have been deported. Egyptian state media, he said, have just made things worse.
 
"Some media spoke in a very bad way against us. Some media say we are like Muslim Brotherhood - something terrorist. They think Free Syrian Army rebels are terrorists,"  said Maleh.
 
The Egyptian government also has adopted stringent new visa rules, making it harder for Syrians to find refuge in the country.
 
"Syrian people [previously] came to Egypt and their families would follow them.  Now, [they] cannot, and [they] stay in Lebanon or Turkey or Syria. And some Syrian people go back to Syria."

Refugee crisis worries Lebanese

In Lebanon, the biggest regional host of Syrian refugees, the push toward a diplomatic solution over Syria's chemical weapons has produced mixed reactions.

Some Lebanese are relieved that the United States is reconsidering a Syria military strike that they fear would expand the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. But, others criticized the delay in U.S. military action as the equivalent of offering support to the Syrian government.

Lebanese banker Nader Mashnouk, speaking to VOA as took a cigarette break in a Beirut shopping mall, said he is glad that Washington has delayed plans to attack Syria.

"Basically I'm more relieved. I feel safer. But I can't say for sure that I'm 100 percent safe because you never know what might happen," he said.

But, the head of a charity that provides free education to Syrian refugee children in Beirut said the only way to prevent President Assad from using chemical weapons against the Syrian people is to remove him from power.

Mohammad Khair al-Ghabani, chairman of Ibdaat, said the U.S. delay for diplomacy is a "conspiracy against the Syrian people" and that as the world waits, people are dying and the refugee crisis is growing.

Kamel Wazne, director of the Center for American Strategic Studies in Beirut, said a Western attack on the Syrian government would be offering de facto Western support to rebel groups, which include Islamist factions like al-Qaida.  
 
If the United States is going to enter a war, he said, it should know which side it wants to win.
 
"They could be fighting a war and not even know who they are fighting. Then they shouldn't be in the war in the first place, because in war you have to have an objective," said Wazne. "Who's going to come next? Who's going to lead the country? How is the country going to be run?"

Reporting by Lisa Schlein in Geneva, Elizabeth Arrott in Cairo and Heather Murdock in Beirut.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: will from: dallas
September 12, 2013 5:43 PM
Well its a great humanitarian effort.
That said, I think Europe is setting itself up for
turmoil and violence by settling more people from this region of the earth with its bitter sectarian religious rivalries and fundamentalism
in their midst.
The people have a mind set from the Middle Ages and are going to continue to be a great challenge to help. Overall, a positive for these people and a negative also.


by: Anonymous
September 11, 2013 8:49 PM
Good to see! The world needs to help these poor people, but better yet, unplug the source of this mess, bashar al assad must be arrested for his crimes and must be forced to stop and drop everything. The world must step in this is costing the world millions and is a terrible situation Syrian people are in. Assad has been destroying the country for 2.5yrs. and needs to be removed at all costs. His crimes should definately be served justice as well.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid