Germany 10 Mar 2015 00:00
Hussein, a 27 year-old from Aleppo, considers Germany the right place in Europe to fulfill his career as an IT engineer while his home country, Syria, enters the fifth year of an unending civil war.
“I came to Germany to complete and advance my studies to become an engineer,” said Hussein. “I don’t know exactly how many years of my previous study institutions here will officially recognize. Maybe they will put me in the first year, but I am ready to re-start from the first year at university if that should be the case.”
Hussein arrived in Berlin on March 6th via Turkey and Greece. The civil war in Syria forced him to withdraw from a five-years course in IT engineering at the university in Aleppo.
“I had a diploma as a computer technician, then I decided to upgrade my certificate by attending engineering courses. I studied for two years in an institute for the diploma and then four years at a university,” Hussein said.
Back in Syria, Hussein’s livelihood was decent, but his wage of around 250 euros didn’t secure him economic independence.
“I had my own house that my parents gave to me, but I didn’t live there, and I had my own car, but they were both destroyed,” he said.
In Aleppo, Hussein taught computer science in a school to students from 6th to 11th grade. Meanwhile, he had a second job.
“I was a swim instructor. I used to go directly to the swimming pool when I finished work at the school, and also I worked as a lifeguard. I was in a good situation before the war.”
Many other skilled Syrians take the decision to start anew a life in Europe. On the continent, Germany’s powerful mix of stable economy and welfare state catches hearts and minds of young, talented asylum seekers from Syria.
“There is life in Germany, more than other Scandinavian countries such as Sweden or Denmark,” Hussein believes. “Berlin is the best city in Europe for everything. The university is very good here in Germany. Most people are helpful towards new people coming.”
The number of refugees arriving in Berlin from war-torn Syria spiked last year. According to LAGeSo – Landesamtes für Gesundheit und Soziales - the operative branch of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of the State of Berlin - in 2013 only 695 Syrians applied to start the asylum procedure in the German capital. In 2014, that number jumped to 2.518. The German Federal migration office recorded 5.340 new asylum requests from Syrians since last January, which in the same month of 2014 numbered only 1.637, a 224 per cent increase.
Syrians coming to Europe try to circumvent the Dublin regulation – imposing asylum seekers to stay in the first country of arrival in Europe – by asking to register as asylum seekers either in Berlin or Stuttgart, southern Germany. Both cities have decided to issue residence permits even if refugees had registered somewhere else in Europe.
“All Syrians, when they come from Turkey to Austria or Germany, should pass through Hungary or Italy; and the police maybe catches them and takes the fingerprints,” Hussein said. “For that, all people are coming here and you can see too many people. I came via Turkey, Greece and then I took a flight to Germany.”
Hussein’s family is now scattered in the Middle East: His father is in Lebanon, his mother is still in Syria. “I am in contact with my parents every day via internet,” he said. “In Germany, I have my friends from Syria and two cousins who are German nationals.”