The issue of Syrian asylum destinations is of great interest to all Syrian citizens. Syrians inside Syria and their peers in neighbouring countries –such as Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq– share a fundamental problem: they cannot settle with their children, free from political and economic risks.
While the security risks of life are rising in all Syrian regions, and the burden of life in them is increasing, the neighbouring countries have raised the intensity of their anti-refugee rhetoric, calling for the expulsion of the Syrians and their return home.
In recent years, EU countries have been a haven for Syrian refugees. However, the situation is different, as they have been keen to block all Syrian asylum routes. Faced with the difficulty or impossibility of reaching the European continent due to the tightening of the borders of the European Union and the high cost of smuggling– which amounts to between 12,000 and 20,000 euros– Syrians are looking for new places of migration. Many of these places were not familiar to them in the past.
Mauritania has become one of Syria’s main asylum destinations. Mauritania, a West African country and a member of the Arab League, receives thousands of Syrians, whose exact number is unknown, due to the lack of official statistics by the Mauritanian government.
“A large number of Syrian doctors have been arriving in Mauritania since 2020, due to the availability of job opportunities for them with attractive salaries, compared to the salaries in Syria,” a Syrian national living there told Al-Hal Net.
“Syrians receive a kind of sympathy from the Mauritanian society, but the life chances for those who do not have the capital or do not work in professions required in Mauritania are almost non-existent,” said the source, who asked not to be named.
According to information gathered by Al-Hal Net, despite the failure of some projects, Syrians still try to settle in Mauritania, where visas are easily obtained.
In recent months, pressure has increased on Brazilian consulates and diplomatic missions in Syria’s neighbouring countries, as Brazil grants a “humanitarian” visa and a residence card, on relatively easy terms to Syrians. This will allow them to start a new life in the Latin American country.
The authorities in Brazil, which has become one of the most important destinations for Syrian asylum seekers, do not provide enough assistance to start a new life. However, there are associations that newcomers resort to that give them temporary housing, enable them to enroll in Portuguese language courses free of charge; or receive in-kind assistance, pending their entry into the labour market.
In addition, the chances of obtaining Brazilian citizenship are high for those living there. Brazil is an emerging economy, raising the likelihood of job creation and stability.
Guyana can be reached in two ways: through Brazil, after obtaining a humanitarian visa, via an illegally rented boat, or by travelling to Suriname, west of Guyana.
The most prominent advantage of the island is that it is subject to direct French rule, and therefore access to it entitles the immigrant to submit asylum before the French authorities. After studying their application and obtaining the right of asylum, they can travel directly to live in France. This has made Guyana one of the most important asylum destinations for Syrians.
One of the most notable disadvantages of this method is that there is little aid on that island and few rudimentary shelters for refugees. This drives asylum seekers to live at their own expense, which is difficult because of the high cost of living there –which amounts to the cost of living in Europe. The second solution is to live in tents on the beaches until obtaining the right to asylum and French residence.
Since Egypt reopened visas to Syrians, pressure has increased on passport applications in Syria’s immigration and passport divisions.
Egypt is an ideal choice for many Syrian families looking for a haven for stability. Access to accommodation is easy, and Egyptian society welcomes Syrians. However, it is difficult to get a job, as the Egyptian labour market is experiencing intense competition. Most of those who go to Egypt try to work on their own projects, bringing them a stable income.
But on the other hand, Syrians are encouraged to migrate there and open small projects, such as sewing workshops, restaurants, and cafes, because the country’s language is Arabic, and its culture is close to the Syrian culture. This factor makes Egypt one of the most important destinations for Syrian asylum.
The United Arab Emirates
The UAE has completely opened visas, not only to Syrians but to most nationalities of the world. However, obtaining a visa does not mean ensuring stability there, as many Syrians obtained a one-year visa and went to the Emirates to search for job opportunities and stability. They failed to achieve their goals, spent all their savings, and then had to return to Syria.
Perhaps the most prominent reason for this is that the labour system in the Arabian Gulf has changed a lot. In the past, the Gulf states were in the construction phase and needed a lot of manpower and experts, but this is no longer the case today, especially with the trend to prioritize employment opportunities for citizens of those countries. This has made it difficult for Syrians to get jobs in the UAE. They need various skills, including total mastery of English. Furthermore, they must compete for job opportunities with Asian nationalities– heavily present in the UAE. Despite all these difficulties, the UAE remains one of Syria’s preferred asylum destinations.
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.