Life As A Refugee: What Happens To Those Who Flee Syria's Civil War

 Photo: Silje Furulund, Mette Lykke Kiønig Vollan & Anne Fleischmann

Photo: Silje Furulund, Mette Lykke Kiønig Vollan & Anne Fleischmann

The conflicts in Syria forced more than four million people to flee their country. This was the biggest refugee crisis for a quarter of a century, according to the UN. 

The large influx of refugees was headline news throughout Europe, including Norway. Thousands of desperate refugees found their way to Norway, hoping for a safe place for themselves. And the Norwegian press wanted to tell their stories, trying to help their cases. But was the media critical enough? 

In 2015, the Norwegian journalist Lars Akerhaug did a research on how the Norwegian media covered the influx of refugees and other migrants.

 After two years in Norway, Daniel was granted political asylum in 2017.

After two years in Norway, Daniel was granted political asylum in 2017.

Akerhaug claimed that there was an absence of critical questions in the media, even though several of the stories were untrustworthy. According to Akerhaug, the Norwegian journalists went into a campaign mode when they covered the refugee crisis.

- But the mood of the population turned around because of how high the immigration was about to become, and the coverage immediately became more objective. It is fascinating and strange how little self-examination it has led to, Akerhaug says.

Akerhaug does not think that the media created any prejudices in the coverage of the refugee crisis. - However, they didn´t create a realistic picture of the opportunities the refugees have to be integrated and to cope with the Norwegian labour market.

 Source: UNHCR, SSB, IMO

Source: UNHCR, SSB, IMO

Daniel Alhomsi (26) is one of the four million people who left Syria to seek safety in another country.

18 months ago he finally reached Norway, after a long and dangerous journey through several countries in Europe.

When Daniel arrived in Norway, he had to start from nothing and try to build his future again. Today he lives in Bjørnebekk, an asylum reception centre in Ås.

- I really like it there. I have my own room and I get to do what I want, he says.

Daniel uses a lot of his time helping other refugees to get a job and to be integrated into the Norwegian society.

- I and my Syrian friends are trying to build a big network and we want to use our voice and show that we are open to integrating into the society. We want to deliver a message to the world that we are a good resource in Norway, he says. 

Daniel had to travel through a lot of cities to make it to Norway.

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Daniel explains why he had to leave Dubai.

His journey started in Dubai after he got out of prison. He went to Turkey and then travelled by boat to enter Athen in Greece.

The boat was filled up with hopeful and desperate refugees, wearing expensive life jackets that probably wouldn´t be helpful if they got into the water.

When Daniel came to Tovarnik in Croatia, he had to live in a refugee camp for 26 hours before he continued his travel. 

- In Germany, the police welcomed us and told us that we could go to Sweden if we wanted to. I went to Sweden and stayed at my aunt's house for six days before we took the bus to Norway, he says

Daniel is not the only one who has to leave his home behind, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing because of war, hunger, terrorism or persecution. 

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"They were beating us."

Daniel told us that his phone saved his life. - My friends texted me all the time. They told me where to go and where it was safe to be. If I went on this journey without my phone, I don't think I would be here today. I am really grateful for the friends that kept in touch with me. 

- Welcome to Sweden

"I want to say goodbye to my father."

Until this is possible he has another goal: 
- My dream is to be the minister of immigration in Norway. 

By: Silje Furulund, Mette Lykke Kiønig Vollan & Anne Fleischmann

This article was originally posted here. 


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