Iraqi refugees struggle in Syria

Many of those fleeing the violence in Iraq are finding life tough in Damascus.

by

    Yousef believes the US should withdraw from Iraq
    Many Iraqis flee the violence in their homeland for the Syrian capital, Damascus.

    For 26 years, the two countries did not have official ties. Restored only recently, leaders from both countries are working to enhance relations.

    And some Iraqi refugees in Damascus are hopeful it will positively affect them. Some refugees say it is important that the relationship between Iraq and Syria grows.

    But one 26-year old has lost hope. Yousef used to be a security guard at a Baghdad hotel. He left his job, family, friends, his life, fearing for his safety.

    Now selling Iraqi sweets is his profession. Yousef welcomes improving Iraq's relations with neighboring countries but, for him, the solution will come once the US ends its "occupation" of his country.

    "The US should leave us alone," he said. "Look at how we are living - we thank Syria however for accepting us - it is the only country in the region which makes it easy for us to flee."

    Returning home

    The refugees all have different stories, but what they have in common is a desire to return home to a safe country.

    Their desperation is clear - many say they are even ready to walk back to Baghdad.

    Many of the 800,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria thought it would be a temporary home. But as weeks turned into months, months into years, the grim reality slowly sank in. 

    Haidar and his family live in cramped
    conditions in Damascus 

    For these refugees returning to their homeland is becoming a remote possibility as scores continue to leave.

    Haidar Kamal, a former Iraqi army officer, left Baghdad only 15 days ago.

    Life as a refugee in Syria is not easy and even drinking water is hard to come by. His mother, two brothers and their families as well as his own live in a rented apartment.

    Haidar says they are tired and their future is uncertain - as if they were in a tunnel which has no end.

    His wife said: "There are jobs in Iraq, but no safety. Here in Syria there is safety but no jobs."

    But the family are thankful - at least their children are safe even though they fear they will grow up as refugees.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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