Tag Archives: Syrian

Malaysia Feature | Refugees

The Hardships of Refugees in Malaysia

Although Malaysia has long offered refuge to persecuted Muslim populations, Malaysian law does not distinguish between asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. As a consequence, refugees experience high levels of legal precarity, severely limiting access to healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. Immigration police frequently raid businesses in search of undocumented workers, and children are frequently pushed into work because of an educational system with limited resources to accommodate them. While more than 164,000 refugees in Malaysia are officially registered with the UN Refugee Agency, many more languish in the long registration queue. Today, activists are working to pressure the recently installed government to become a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to improve protections and access to opportunity for those seeking life and livelihood in the wake of war and persecution.


‘We have nothing’: A life in limbo for Malaysia’s Yemeni refugees” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)

Inside Malaysia’s ‘Living Hell’ for Refugee Children” (NewsDeeply | February 2018)


UNHCR Figures at a Glance in Malaysia

Lebanon Feature | Syrian Refugees

The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.

Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.


As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)


For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)


U.S. News | Refugees & Immigrants

Refugees and immigrants traveling to U.S. reportedly stopped at airports following executive order
  • President Donald Trump issued an executive order halting refugee resettlement in the U.S. for 120 days.
  • The order also creates a 90-day suspension of visas for nationals from”countries of concern,” expected to include Muslim-majority countries with little to no connection to Trump’s business interests including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
  • The suspended visas and refugee ban have led to the detention of and refusal of passage to immigrant airport travelers.

Full Executive Order Text: Trump’s Action Limiting Refugees Into the U.S. (via The New York Times)


(Image Credit: via Politico)

Global Event | Christmas

Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World

Source: Al Jazeera YouTube

One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas

U.S. News | Syrian Refugees

U.S. meets target of 10,000 Syrian refugee admissions
  • The White House announced that the 10,000th Syrian refugee had been scheduled for arrival a month before the end of the fiscal year, with Michigan and California topping the list of most popular destinations for arrivals.
  • The number of admissions is expected to be capped at 10,000 again for 2017, though plans have been announced to increase the number by a few thousand each year thereafter.
  • The number of admissions will be contingent upon the outcome of the 2016 national elections, with refugee admissions and immigration more broadly a controversial topic in the presidential campaigns.

Read more:
U.S. to meet target of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees: White House” (Reuters)
US meets goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees ahead of schedule” (The Guardian)
Top Destinations for Syrian Refugees: Michigan and California” (NBC News)

(Image Credit: David Ryder/Reuters)

Turkey News | Gay Refugee

Gay Syrian refugee decapitated, body found in Istanbul
  • Muhammed Wisam Sankari’s violently mutilated body was found in the Yenikapi neighborhood of Istanbul on July 25, two days after he left his house in Aksaray.
  • Friends reported that Sankari had feared for his safety and that police and other officials had been slow to respond to concerns.
  • Sankari had also reportedly been raped in the months before his death and had been attempting to gain refugee status for resettlement outside of Turkey.

Read more:
Syrian gay refugee killed in Istanbul” (Kaos GL)
Missing gay Syrian refugee found beheaded in Istanbul” (The Guardian)
Gay Syrian man beheaded and mutilated in Turkey” (BBC)

(Image Credit: via Kaos GL)

Canada Feature | Syrian Refugees

Refuge in the Great White North

While a resurgence in xenophobic nationalism has hampered humanitarian efforts in countries like the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and South Korea, provisions in Canada’s immigration law allowing for the private sponsorship of refugees has made the country a bright spot in the global refugee crisis. The program has opened up opportunities where few would exist otherwise, and though concerns over the potential for paternalism have given some refugee advocates pause, Canadians’ historical willingness to open their wallets, homes, and neighborhoods to refugees has long given new arrivals a reason to believe in Canada’s welcoming reputation. Amidst the culturally and politically sensitive terrain of traumatic memories, privacy issues, language barriers, and financial struggle, The New York Times profiles some of the Canadians, new and old, participating in the country’s private sponsorship program.

Read more:
Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Interregional Feature | Refugees with Mental Illness

The Spiraling Mental Health of Syrian Refugees

“Is it because these refugees are coming from somewhere where they’ve seen their families butchered and suffered some kind of trauma? […] Or is it because as refugees they had to wander across half of Africa for a couple years before they ever got to Europe? Or is it because that when they got to Europe and eventually Sweden, they lived in fear of being kicked out of the country?”

As refugees find themselves piling up at closed borders, stuck indefinitely in overcrowded camps, and resettled in countries they may have had little to no connection to, reports are indicating an increasing prevalence of mental health problems and risk of long-term illness. The stresses of war, upended lives, separated families, life-threatening travel, and an uncertain future have caught up to a growing number of refugees, causing severe degradation of their mental health relative to other non-refugee migrant groups.

Humanitarian workers have observed that deteriorating mental health conditions with little access to appropriate healthcare have contributed to violence and vulnerability to radicalization. While refugees tell stories of loss, desperation, and disillusionment, field psychologists report increases in or risk of PTSD, panic disorders, depression, anxiety, and a range of psychotic conditions among refugee populations, further compounding their already marginalized status and setting the stage for potentially lifelong psychological battles.

Read more:
Refugees Suffer a Higher Rate of Psychotic Disorders” (Scientific American)
Lebanon struggles to help Syrian refugees with mental health problems” (Reuters)
Idomeni’s refugees suffer mental anguish” (Deutsche Welle)
Psychological toll on Syrian refugees alarming, many suffer from mental illnesses” (The Daily Sabah)
Syrian Refugees In Canada Face Ongoing Health Challenges: Study” (The Huffington Post)

(Image Credit: D. Tosidis/Deutsche Welle)

Armenia News | Syrian Refugees

A Spice of Home in Yerevan

Despite facing economic and cultural difficulties in integrating into their new home, Syrian refugees in Yerevan have injected new life to the culinary scene of the Armenian capital. Many are ethnically Armenian but have drifted linguistically and culturally from the Armenians of the Caucasus, providing a cultural silver-lining to the tragedy-driven reunion. EurasiaNet reports on refugees’ efforts to acclimate and the unique economic opportunities Yerevan’s restaurant scene offers.

Read more:
Syrian Refugees’ Cuisine Helps Spice Up Armenia” (EurasiaNet)

Additional reading:
Syrians in Armenia: Not just another refugee story” (Al Jazeera)
Aleppo Market: Syrian Armenians bring ‘new flavor’ to Yerevan trade” (ArmeniaNow)

(Image Credit: Emma Grigoryan/EurasiaNet)

Syria & Turkey News | Turkmen

Syrian Turkmens flee coastal Syria for Turkey as violence intensifies
  • Hundreds of Syria’s minority Turkmen community left the province of Latakia for Turkey as violence between pro-government and opposition forces increased.
  • Women- and children-majority groups were bussed across the Turkish border as a key opposition-held town fell in the province.
  • Turkey has been particularly critical of what it argues has been Russia’s targeting of the Turkmen minority, which has displaced tens of thousands among the Turks’ ethnic cousins.

Read more:
Syrian Turkmens cross to Turkey, fleeing advances of pro-Assad forces” (Reuters)
Hundreds of Turkmens flee Russian airstrikes, enter Turkey” (Today’s Zaman)
Displaced Turkmen Villagers Brace for a Cold Winter” (Syria Deeply)

(Image Credit: Stringer/Reuters)

Germany Feature | Refugees

Germany’s New Growing Pains

In the wake of mass sexual assaults carried out on New Year’s Eve by a small group of Arab and other North African men in Cologne, refugees and their German supporters are having to confront difficult integration issues with the country’s now massive numbers of new residents. Migrants scramble to distance themselves from the criminal behavior of a few and turned to educational programs to tackle cultural differences in everyday life. As far-right groups continue to intimidate immigrants new and old alike, The Guardian examines the challenges facing the new immigrant community.

“There was a big hype two months ago, when it was seen to be cool and trendy to go to a refugee centre and donate old clothes, but this hysteria of joy is now turning into a hysteria of frustration. Just giving a refugee a donated jumper will not turn them into a German citizen. That needs time and both sides must approach each other with flexibility.”

The full story:
‘If we want Germans to accept Arabs, Arabs must also learn to accept them’” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Turkey News | Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees struggle to integrate into Turkish society
  • Turkey has become home to 2.3 million Syrians, making it host to the largest refugee population in the world.
  • With opportunities in refugee camps limited, most have taken to cities in search of stability, but have found cultural barriers, few legal employment opportunities, limited healthcare access, and increasing resident suspicion.
  • While the E.U. has drafted a proposal for funding assistance to Turkey, officials have mulled several options as integration has stalled, including establishing a safe zone in northern Syria to which refugees could return or refugee-only cities in Turkey.

“I regret coming here. If I can’t survive I’ll go back to Syria and die with dignity. We didn’t come to Turkey to be beggars.”

Read more:
Tensions simmer as Turkey struggles with burden of refugees” (Reuters)
Migrant crisis: EU plan offers more money for Turkey camps” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Murad Sezer/Reuters)

U.S. Feature | Syrian Christian Immigrants

Syrian and Christian in New York

Image Credit: Leticia Miranda/BuzzFeed News
Image Credit: Leticia Miranda/BuzzFeed News

Syrian Christians who immigrated to the U.S. before Syria descended into chaos have watched from the sidelines as their families, churches, and hometowns have been demolished in the fight between pro-government and Islamist militant forces, including the Islamic State. BuzzFeed News profiles three in New York who relate the tragedy of watching the world they previously knew as home fall apart.

Read the full feature at BuzzFeed News.

Lebanon News | Syrian Refugee Youth

Lebanon looks to provide schooling for upwards of 200,000 Syrian children in its schools
  • The education ministry indicated the numbers are an increase of tens of thousands over last year, straining Lebanon’s schooling capabilities.
  • $94 million in international financing has arrived to support the free education of up to 367,000 students–including the 200,000 Syrians–up through middle school.
  • Lebanon has hosted the largest proportion of Syrian refugees relative to its population, with 1.1 million living in a country of 4 million.

Read the full story at Reuters.

U.S. News | Syrian Refugees

President Obama announces U.S. will take in 10,000 Syrian refugees over next year
  • Obama announced that preparations are being made to take in the number by the end of September 2016.
  • The U.S. had originally planned to accept 1,500 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015.
  • While welcoming the increase, humanitarian groups criticized the number as too low relative to U.S. capacity, calling on the president to increase the yearly refugee cap from 70,000 to 200,000.

“The White House’s pledge is a start, but it just scratches the surface. … The U.S. can and must do more to help ensure that thousands of Syrians fleeing violence have the safety and security they need.”

Read the full story at BuzzFeed News.

(Image Credit: Robert Atanasovski/AFP /Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)