The suffering endured by the Syrian people over the past twelve years has become multifaceted, defying easy categorization. The contemporary brutality of the regime has introduced new forms of oppression previously unseen. From the pervasive fear that grips the population to the grinding poverty that afflicts all Syrians, except for a privileged few tied to the regime, life within Syria has become unbearable. Many have been displaced within and outside Syrian cities, often facing perilous journeys and the spectre of death. Yet, even exile does not offer respite from suffering, as Syrians experience the spread of racism in various corners of the globe where they seek refuge. They discover that the human rights and rule of law they hoped for in their adopted countries do not always shield them from threats.
Exile means losing one’s social fabric, the nurturing cultural and social environment that once provided protection and a sense of belonging. The absence of this support structure has led many Syrian youth to drift towards indifference and alienation.
According to international reports, Syrian refugees make up a significant portion of the global refugee population. Tragically, they also constitute a high percentage of those who have perished at sea or been thwarted by Coast Guard forces in their quest to reach European shores. Despite these perils, Syrians continue to embark on treacherous journeys daily, driven by the elusive dream of finding safety.
In addition to their own hardships, Syrian immigrants often bear the responsibility of supporting their remaining family members back in Syria. They share their hard-earned money or whatever aid they receive, despite the meagre amounts available.
Exile also means losing one’s social fabric, the nurturing cultural and social environment that once provided protection and a sense of belonging. The absence of this support structure has led many Syrian youth to drift towards indifference and alienation. This, in turn, has contributed to the breakdown of Syrian families and an alarming rise in divorce rates, along with an environment conducive to underage and customary marriages, which leave women vulnerable to various forms of violence. They can be easily cast out of their homes in case of disputes. Children born into these fragile marriages often suffer as they navigate the challenges posed by absent or indifferent fathers, leading to a surge in single motherhood rates among Syrian women. This, in turn, creates a cascade of crises, affecting everything from education to healthcare for these vulnerable children.
Syrian immigrants represent a significant loss to the global community, with their valuable expertise and skills going untapped due to their uncertain status in foreign lands. They find themselves in environments that often disregard their qualifications and experiences. Many are forced to accept jobs with unfair working conditions and subpar wages, often lacking legal protection against employer abuse and wage theft.
Today, Syrian immigrants, both within and outside their homeland, have become marginalized in the modern world. They endure racist behaviors that often go unaddressed, while the protections afforded by human rights laws and local regulations have eroded. This issue extends beyond just recent arrivals, affecting many Syrians who have lived abroad for decades. The simple mention of Syrian birthplace in a travel document can lead to a range of restrictions and mistreatment at border crossings and airports worldwide.
As the far-right gains ground in numerous host countries and racist sentiments grow, refugees often become convenient scapegoats for economic and social problems. Politicians have exploited the refugee issue for electoral gains, deflecting blame onto vulnerable populations instead of acknowledging their own policy failures.
The prophetic words of the Iraqi poet Muzaffar al-Nawab resonate with Syrians today: “We will become the Jews of history… and howl in the desert without shelter.” It is time for the conscience of the world to move beyond mere media concern and take humanitarian action to remove this stigma and address the plight of Syrian exiles.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.