Refugees in Syria start journey to their new home – the United Kingdom

With mixed feelings of joy, sadness and excitement, refugees in Syria bid farewell to their friends and started the journey to their new home.

Today, 11 refugees started their journey to their new home – the United Kingdom. UNHCR, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), facilitated the first refugee resettlement movement in 2018.  The refugees came from various backgrounds – Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Most have been in displacement in Syria for a decade and some for two.

Mohammad and his wife originate from Afghanistan – 23 years ago they left their war-torn country and began the life of a refugee in Syria. Their only son, Mortada was born in Syria, which is the only home he knows. Today, Mortada is 18 years old and had no official birth certificate; neither did he possess any other identity papers until UNHCR managed to obtain legal documents to allow him to travel with his family and start a new life.  As he prepares to start a new life in a new home, Mortada suffers a sense of mixed feelings: “ I am sad to have to leave. I was born here in Syria and I’m anxious to start a new life and meet new friends.” he said.

Even with the start of a devastating crisis, Syria has kept the doors open for refugees and asylum-seekers and did not betray its deeply rooted culture of hospitality. Today, Syria hosts more than 51,000 refugees and asylum-seekers scattered throughout the country.

But life has not been easy on refugees, asylum-seekers and Syrians, alike. The crisis has had a devastating impact on them all.

“Refugees are not a threat, refugees are threatened”

“This is one of the positive moments in the line of work…the start of a new life and hope for a positive future as life was not easy here in Syria due to the ongoing crisis and it will not be easy in the new country,” said Maya Ameratunga UNHCR’s Deputy Representative (Protection).

Ms. Ameratunga met with the refugees on the ground at the departure point. And had a message for the refugees departing, “Be a good ambassador and show the resettled country; refugees are not a threat, refugees are threatened…show the international community, they must continue to show solidarity and continue to make resettlement possible.”

As many refugees gathered to bid farewell to their departing friends – they reminded the international community what it means to be a refugee and how important resettlement is for a refugee to restart a new dignified life in a safe place, which they can call home.