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After seven years of war, where are refugees?

Seven years ago when the Syrian war started in March 2011 people started fleeing the country to keep their lives. After 7 years of war there are nearly 11 million Syrians that fled the country while 13.5 million are still seeking aid from inside Syria, but most refugees are not actually in Europe. After millions relocated in search for new lives around the world nearly 4.8 million went to neighboring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt) and did not wish to settle in Europe.

Egypt is the only country on the list that does not share a border with Syria. There are more than a hundred thousand registered Syrian in Egypt while Canada hosts 25000 and the UK welcomed 4500.

Syrians introduced a whole new sector in economy by offering new products and services that were not known in past years. Ahmed Salah went to Egypt in 2014 from Aleppo “I had 50000 Egyptian pounds when I first came here I worked for a real-estate company. Then after a year I decided with a group of my friends to start a restaurant and now I cannot be happier.” Salah is one of many newly founded investors that introduced Syrian food in Egypt. Such projects provided employment opportunities for more refugees. 65% of Syrians in Egypt live below poverty line under harsh circumstances, such investments on the other hand help support families and individuals. Salah that added refugees starting their own businesses helps all other Syrians because it is a solution in the whole bigger crisis.

UNHCR have also been involved in several events and initiatives with refugees and presenting their stories around Egypt. Last Friday they hosted an event to support and sell handmade products made by women refugees.

Other stories may not have the same ending Lina Hekmat moved to Egypt in 2013 and now she sells Syrian pastires on the street trying to provide for her child and she has been fighting for her husband to escape the war in Aleppo.

Starting a businesses in the UK is more expensive for refugees. Khaled Ali owns a supermarket in west Hampstead. “I left Syria to London 15 years ago and I opened this store after working in it for 13 years then I was able to buy it from its previous owner because he was getting older. It is impossible to come to the UK escaping the war in Syria and start your own thing but some people do find jobs.”

Escaping war and choosing another place to live is not a simple choice. Mohammed Abdelhady left Syria during the first weeks of war to go live with his son in London, but a year later he decided to leave.

The refugee crisis is a problem for everyone but mostly for the refugees themselves, leaving their homes and families behind to find a new life in a new land. Support from other refugees by developing new careers for the less fortunate is only one way to help ease their pain and make their new home a little more livable.

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