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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    Pyongyang had notified International Maritime Organization and ITU of plan to launch 'Earth observation satellite' between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25, but has now changed the dates

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.