Nurnberg takes in first refugees from syria

Nurnberg takes in first refugees from syria

Tight jeans, bright orange tights under short skirts, curly mahns – the girls look western, fashionable and happy. They laugh as they climb out of the bus. More than a year ago her family fled the syrian capital damascus. Now they have arrived. For the first. After a good five-hour ride in a minibus from the border transit camp friedland near gottingen, they have reached the last station of their flight from the civil war for the time being: the state-run transitional home of the government of central franconia in nurnberg.

Mother fatima wears a floor-length black coat and has covered her hair with a veil. She beams at the waiting people just like her six daughters: representatives of the government of central franconia, the bavarian ministry of social affairs, the central council of oriental christians in germany (ZOCD) and the press – the reception committee is clearly in the majority. Father abdul nods to everyone in a friendly manner and answers questions, ibrahim yigit from ZOCD translates: "the situation in syria is well known. The civil war … We couldn't live there anymore, the threat was too great."

More than two million syrians have fled to neighboring countries, according to the united nations, with another 4.25 million people fleeing inside syria. The country has 21 million inhabitants. The federal government has decided to give 5000 "particularly vulnerable" refugees a new home to take in syrians. Among the first 107 to arrive at the border transit camp in friedland two weeks ago was the family from damascus. Father abdul tells of fleeing to lebanon, of relatives moving from place to place within syria. "The threat to them is very hard."

Nine refugees and 1000 questions
The 62-year-old is beset with questions from all sides. He laughs, tries to answer everything the strangers want to know, but doesn't know himself who in the crowd he has to thank for the fact that his family is now safe – and who will take them to their new home, a small apartment.

He lived with his wife and six daughters in a camp in lebanon for a good year. The youngest is ten, the oldest 25 years old. When they learned that the federal republic was accepting syrian refugees, they applied to the refugee agency UNHCR for help. It decided to allow the family on the first charter flight to germany.

He was so happy, says abdul. "Germany is the epitome of development and progress for us", he praises. "Our hope is that we will be able to rest here. The fear is gone. We feel safe." He looks around questioningly, wanting to know how long they could actually stay here. "It's up to you: as long as you want", answers andreas kufer, head of the integration policy department at the bavarian ministry of social affairs.

"The dormitory is a basic offer. The refugees can leave at any time. They were also allowed to work", says kufer. The goal is to integrate the syrians as well as possible. "If all 5000 come, the federal office for migration and refugees will send about 760 to bavaria." Many arrived privately, for example with relatives, without government assistance. "We are well prepared."

In munich, bavaria's social minister christine haderthauer (CSU) also stressed that the refugees were not a problem. "In view of the terrible consequences of the conflict for the syrian population, we want to set a humanitarian example and welcome the people who are coming here to our cities and communities.

The janitor has stuck a sign on the door of the transitional home. "Welcome" is written on it in several languages. But the nine syrians can't go through this door yet. Still too many people, too many questions. Father abdul finds interest positive, answers calmly. He gestures with his right hand, on which several fingers are silent. The left sleeve of the leather jacket hangs down empty. "No", he says that he himself was not injured in damascus. An industrial accident.

A scar reminds us of homs
The young man, who has so far stayed in the background, now steps forward. Faysal is the only one not in the family. "Me", he says in english, rolling up the left leg of his jeans and speaking arabic again. Yigit has to interpret: the 26-year-old comes from homs, the city that has been called the "capital of the revolution" wear. There he got the scar on his leg, says yigit. Faysal's further statement needs no translation: his hands form a pistol.