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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid