Of the two million refugees displaced by Syria’s civil war, a handful have been given the chance to resettle in Western countries such as Germany, where they will have access to language courses, social services and the right to work.
The two-and-a-half-year Syrian conflict has caused savage bloodshed, with more than 110,000 people killed in the fighting since March 2011, according to the latest estimate from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
But the civil war has also forced vast swathes of the population - two million by last count - to flee Syria and seek safety abroad.
Many have flocked to Syria’s neighbours such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Others have headed further afield as part of a UN programme to relocate Syrian refugees in Western countries.
For 107 Syrian refugees arriving on a flight from Beirut to Hanover on Wednesday, their new home, at least for now, will be Germany.
Once settled, the new arrivals will be given cultural and language courses, access to social services and authorisation to work in the country, opportunities that are welcomed with opened arms.
“It is, of course, a feeling beyond words,” said Khalil Mostafa, one of the newly arrived refugees. “It is the first time ever that we're feeling something like this. Our only wish is that our child can have a safe future, in particular with regards to education.”
Germany has already welcomed 200 Syrian refugees and has committed to housing a total of 5,000 over the coming weeks. Other European countries have also agreed to provide temporary homes for displaced Syrians.
“I think that as everything takes place, the international community - in particular Europe as it is happening on its doorstep - must worry about how to cope with the entire set of problems,” said Germany’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich.
But with Syria’s neighbours struggling to cope with the vast influx of refugees, Western countries are being urged to do more to help.
The UN hopes to resettle 12,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year but has so far only found places for 7,000 in 12 western countries.
“There are two million people in the region who have left Syria right now, and Lebanon alone, which only has a population of 4.4 million people, has some 700,000 Syrian refugees,” said Amnesty International’s Franziska Vilmar.
“So if you look just at that, I think Europe could do much more.”
Date created : 2013-09-12