Syria Displaced

A little boy outside his family's pigeon house

Lawfare-Omphalos project on refugees, security, and Syria. This series examines the Syrian civil war, along with other regional conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, through the lens of refugees fleeing those countries. Laura Dean travels the region to speak with refugees about the places and conflicts from which they come and report on the challenges refugee flows pose to the places that receive them.

Latest in Syria Displaced

Syria Displaced

Arabs and Arabs: Refugee Integration and Existing Franco-Arab Communities

PARIS, France—Barbès, La Chapelle, Marseille, are just a few of the places in France whose names have come to evoke images of their large populations of French people of Arab—mainly North African—descent. Given that large Franco-Arab communities have existed in France for decades, one might assume France would be a more hospitable environment for Syrian refugees than other parts of Europe. The answer, it seems, is more complicated.

Syria Displaced

A Cop on the Molenbeek Beat

BRUSSELS, Belgium—Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving perpetrator of the Paris attacks in November, and his brother Ibrahim, one of the suicide bombers that day, were no strangers to law enforcement. Long before November 13, 2015, the brothers had had dealings with the police force in their home neighborhood of Molenbeek, as had a number of the others involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks.

Syria Displaced

In Big, Bad “Molenbeekistan”

BRUSSELS, Belgium—As the escalator rises out of the Molenbeek subway station, the first sounds you hear are children laughing and calling out to one another. With entrances to the metro at either end of a row of townhouses, you are left with the unlikely impression of a village square. Here young children ride bicycles and teach each other to balance on hover boards. Older men play cricket, some in button-down shirts, some wearing South Asian salwar kameez. A younger boy practices bowling (that’s “pitching” in cricket) as he watches them.

Syria Displaced

Dispatch #13: Between Two Fires

AMMAN, Jordan—The Jordanian government is “between two fires,” as goes the Arabic formulation of “between a rock and a hard place.” Jordan has watched car bombs claimed by the Islamic State explode in Turkey and Lebanon. The three nations’ shared proximity to Syria places them at risk of IS activity but also means they will need to take in large numbers of refugees. As Jordan sees attacks in Syria’s other neighbors, security is a top priority. To date, Jordan has taken in almost a million Syrians, and their presence inside its borders is tightly controlled.

Syria Displaced

Dispatch #12: Returning Kurds to Turkey?

IDOMENI, Greece—Water-logged, mud-sodden, hungry and tired, and waiting on the Greece-Macedonia border are 11,000 of the people whose fate the European Union and Turkey decided recently at their refugee meeting. Many sold everything they had—houses, land, jewelry, mobile phones—to make the dangerous crossing from Turkey to Greece in hopes of finding a safer life. Everyone I’ve spoken to at Idomeni camp is devastated by the EU-Turkey accord.

Syria Displaced

Dispatch #10: No Room for Everyday Grief

GAZIANTEP, Turkey—“I was 13 when we got married. We didn’t know anything about life. My husband was five years older than me. He’s very handsome, my husband….God have mercy on his soul.” Hala’s eyes fill but she does not cry.

She types “hahaha” in Arabic on Whatsapp to her mother-in-law, who has just made a dark joke about not having money to get to Turkey from their hometown outside Aleppo.

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