News / Middle East

Syrian Refugees Find Warm Welcome in Egypt

Syrian Refugees Find Warm Welcome in Egypti
X
May 09, 2013 3:43 PM
More than a million Syrians have fled the conflict in their homeland, seeking refuge in nearby countries. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports on those who have landed in Egypt, and the creation of a “Little Syria” just west of Cairo.

Syrian Refugees Find Warm Welcome in Egypt

Elizabeth Arrott
More than a million Syrians have fled the conflict in their homeland, seeking refuge in countries nearby. Those who have landed in Egypt have contributed to the creation of a “Little Syria” just west of Cairo.

Wael Mustafa left Syria last year with his family, his cooking skills and little else.
Now working in a busy shwarma restaurant near Cairo, Mustafa explained how he got here. After abandoning his devastated home on the outskirts of Damascus, Mustafa, his wife, children and aging parents spent months seeking safety in one town after another. But war always followed. So they fled to Beirut, then on to Cairo.

"Here I start from the zero," Mustafa said. He is one of the lucky ones.

"Because here everything is easy," he added. "The people are easy. To find job easy. To move here easy.”

The restaurant Mustafa works in is in “Little Syria,” a neighborhood in a desert city west of Cairo. He is one of 140,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt, nearly half of whom are registering with the United Nations refugee program.

Most are opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Shops include “The Bakery of the Revolution.”

But Mustafa deflected questions about the politics of the conflict, now in its third year.

"Nobody knows who will win. Until now, nobody wins," he said. "All the people - Syrians - now lose."

Many refugees manage only to make it across the border, landing in camps in Jordan or other neighboring countries, proving a strain to their hosts.

Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo said that is not the case with refugees in Egypt.

"They are not fighters. They are just middle-class-income people who had to escape from the atrocities and the violence. And it is a second home,” said Sadek.

Egypt and Syria were once bound in the United Arab Republic, and family, cultural and Sunni religious ties run deep. The government treats them far differently than exiles from Iraq, Sudan or Palestinian lands.

"Thanks [be to] God we have the Egyptian government who had decided to grant them access to public schools since last September, in addition to the access of all Syrians in Egypt to public health facilities,” said Mohamed Dayri, the regional representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

But some worry how long the goodwill can last. Egypt has troubles of its own. And with the devastation of Syria so thorough, refugees, Mustafa among them, are uncertain when they can return.

"I don't know. I don't know," he said. "I hope I will not stay here too much but I think it will be a bit more. About 20 years or more.”

That's a prospect daunting to all concerned.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid