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Refugees in Jordan Never Thought They Would Have to Leave Home

Rana, a 31-year-old a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, adjusts her 8-year-old daughter’s hair at their home at a refugee camp in Amman on 2 May. World Refugee Day is 20 June. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters) 

20 Jun 2014 – By Dale Gavlak

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Desperate to reunite with family in Europe, a young Syrian refugee recently paid thousands of dollars to a human trafficker to help him and his brother travel abroad. Instead, the pair found themselves tricked, half-way on the opposite side of the world — in China.

Back in Jordan, with their life savings of $34,000 wasted, they almost gave up hope of seeing their mother again and the chance to start a new life.

Some refugees may consider the pair lucky that they are still alive as so many the world over have perished trying to flee to safety from conflict. They are remembered on World Refugee Day, 20 June.

The brothers were trying their luck again and were about to fly to Istanbul in search of yet another way to reach their family. Moussa said he was hoping to be luckier the second time around.

“I studied English at college, while holding down a job as a salesman back home. My future was bright,” said Moussa, a 33-year-old Catholic man from Syria’s northern town of Qamishli.

“We had to flee Syria because of the dangers of kidnapping and killing of Christians by militants,” he told Catholic News Service.

Moussa escaped with his brother to Jordan in the hopes of reuniting with family in Europe.

Frustrated about his unfilled dreams, he seemed almost willing to do anything to change his current circumstances, including another attempt with a people smuggler.

He had been sleeping in a room the size of a small closet in one of the Jordanian capital’s churches, perched high up on a hill overlooking the white limestone cityscape. The church also shelters other Syrian refugees.

“The Jordanian government doesn’t let Syrians work. I feel like my life is passing me by,” the depressed man said.

“Now, my life is sleeping and thinking. I don’t know. It’s just like that. It’s difficult,” he said, his eyes tearing up. “I want to continue my studies, get a job, marry and start a family, like anyone else.”

As Syria’s civil war grinds into its fourth year, Moussa is among the 600,000 Syrians registered with the United Nations in Jordan. But authorities say there are more than 1 million Syrians sheltering here, besides the more than 300,000 Iraqi refugees in the country, and their numbers, too, are growing as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants sweep through the north and center of the beleaguered country.

The huge numbers, in addition to half of the country’s population of Palestinian origin, make Jordan the prime destination for refugees fleeing Mideast conflicts.

Father Khalil Jaar, who is responsible for much of the church’s care for Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the Jordanian capital, Amman, understands the plight faced by Moussa and other the refugees.

A native of Bethlehem, West Bank, the Catholic priest said his Palestinian family fled to Jordan decades ago because of conflict with Israel.

“I was a refugee myself. I am the son of Palestinian refugees,” Father Jaar told CNS.

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Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Jordan Iraqi Refugees Refugee Camps