Syrian Refugees in Germany face distinctly different challenges than those in Lebanon

Syrian Refugees UNHCR

Syrian children outside their UNHCR tent in Jordan’s Za’atri refugee camp. © UNHCR/M.Abu Asaker

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Maria Krayem, a German-Syrian medical student at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. Ms Krayem is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Anyone attempting to accurately describe a day in the life of a refugee would have to early on reach the conclusion that this particular task is impossible. Sadly today the word refugee encompasses such a wide range of vastly different groups of people living in greatly varying conditions, it makes it quite unjust to ignore the differences that make them the humans that they are, shove them all in one box and stamp one label on said box “Refugee “.

Due to various reasons, people from diverse continents and countries, who come from mixed cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds, who belong to different races and religions, who have enjoyed different degrees of education, who entertain distinctive ambitions, visions, and personalities; have been forced to flee their homes and endure displacement.  They were provided with considerably varied welcoming policies and treatments depending on the country that took them in: either with open humanitarian hearts where their existence within its borders is just tolerated in diffidence to the international laws.

Syrian Refugees residing in Germany face different daily challenges than their counterparts residing in Lebanon. In Germany, the biggest hurdles they combat are the new language they are required to master in record times, the ridiculous amount of bureaucratic procedures and the social intolerance sometimes displayed through hateful racist remarks and rising populist political rhetoric.  The Refugees are provided with homes, a monthly income and -although limited to acute treatments- a health coverage until they are able to start rebuilding their lives on their own.

Meanwhile, the 1.6 Million Syrian Refugees in Lebanon speak the same language and come from the same culture as their Lebanese hosts, but since they are presented with little governmental help, many of them who have suffered massive financial losses and psychological distress in Syria face a rapid decline into poverty. Child labor and lack of education rates have risen alarmingly among the refugee population in Lebanon, problems that if not appropriately solved can have disastrous consequences.

So while the main daily struggle for some refugees may be the battle to prove themselves and their worth against preconceived notions and labels (Germany), for others it is the day-to-day survival and providing their families with decent living standards (Lebanon). While for some groups like the Myanmar Rohingyas the feeling of safety and security are the most valuable thing they seek in Bangladesh followed closely by their need to find clean drinking water in the camps they reside in.

So I urge the solution-seekers for the refugee crisis worldwide to talk to Refugees instead of talking about them, ask them their needs and aspirations, involve them in the process of bettering their conditions and solving the root problem of their displacement. They are the ones best qualified to give these answers.

About the author

Maria Krayem is a German-Syrian medical student at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. She occupies the position of the national officer on human rights and peace 2017/2018 at the German Medical Students’ Association (bvmd, Germany). She was a part of the Syrian American Medical Society’s (SAMS) latest July mission to Jordan for the help and relief of Syrian refugees. She is an active member of the project uni-hilft in Frankfurt since 2015 where she helps organize awareness campaigns about stem-cell donations to Leukemia patients. She volunteers since 2016 at her University’s Project (Start ins Deutsche) as a Teacher of the German Language for the Refugees on a weekly basis. She also works part-time at a women’s shelter that offers refuge to domestic abuse victims.

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