Sunday, May 01, 2016

We want to go home

Statistics from a recent programme by the Canadian government to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees surprised many: Out of the 7,000 Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp who qualified for the opportunity, one in four turned it down, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

This contradicts the perception among some in the West that many refugees are moving abroad in order to find "a better life and to stay and settle there", UNHCR's Gavin White told Al Jazeera. "That's clearly not the case if you speak to Syrians themselves," he said, “If you were to ask refugees themselves, what is your top priority, [they would say]: 'We want to go home to Syria.' This is 100 percent the case."

Fear of being separated from family can be a strong enough deterrent for some not to consider resettlement abroad, especially in countries far from the Middle East, experts say.

"The regime bombed areas and innocent people without discrimination. In my village, everyone lost their houses and property," he said, noting he still fears being identified by the regime for his anti-government sentiments, as some of his children and relatives are still in the country. Despite this, he says he longs to go back home and rebuild his life. "I basically feel nostalgic," he admitted, noting he and his wife missed their children and relatives back home. "When the situation is quiet, I will go back barefoot," he said. "Not only me, but everybody. When the fighting ends, we will all go back home. We will build again."

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