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Tag archives for Syria

Asylum Seekers Stranded in Swedish Bureaucracy

Malmö, Sweden — Imad Al-Tamimi teaches Swedish in the same classrooms he wasn’t allowed to attend as a student. “It’s a paradox,” says the 32-year-old teacher. “I can walk into the new arrival’s language course, but only as a teacher. I am not allowed to enter as a student, because I am not considered a refugee.” Al-Tamimi…

Trapped in Greece: “Syria’s war has walked with us”

“We don’t know our destiny,” said Um Safwan, trying to speak to me through the barbed wire fence of Moria detention center. The 48-year-old mother is one of thousands trapped in the detention center – formerly used as a refugee registration camp – on the Greek island of Lesvos. Um Safwan’s three children had passed through…

Pushed Across The Border: When Europe Is Not a Choice

Jordan — She was one of the first welcoming faces I met in Jordan, and the only familiar one. We had met five years ago in Damascus, on the streets of what was then a peaceful uprising against the Assad regime. We would discuss locations for protests, and meet before dawn to hang the anti-government flag in…

For Syrians, There Is No Such Thing as an Open Border

Kilis, Izmir – Turkey —  “I am suffocating.” It’s the sentence I hear the most when interviewing Syrians. Traveling throughout several Turkish cities in the past few weeks, it is now visibly clear that the noose is indeed tightening on Syrians in bordering countries. However, these new limitations may be driving more Syrians to head to Europe…

He Bought Them Lunch. They Learned How To Read.

Reyhanli, Turkey — Early in the morning and late at night, sounds of shelling from across the mountain disrupt the seemingly tranquil border town. “If you’d been here a few nights earlier, when the Russians were bombing, you would have felt the whole ground shake,” Waled Dabak tells me inside his Reyhanli home. “The entire city…

Syrian Refugees Face a Medical Crisis in Jordan

Amman, Jordan — Most of the doctors have started to go home, so we find an empty hospital staff room to sit down. Coffee or tea? Dr. Mohammad* closes the door behind us. The 40-year-old orthopedic surgeon is one of many Syrian doctors working illegally in Jordan since the conflict next door erupted five years ago.…

Verses in Exile: Syrian Rapper Turns War Into Art

Amman, Jordan — “War changes things—your mentality, the way you think, it can mess with your head,” says Mouneer Bu Kolthoum, leaning back into a black leather chair at his home office. “Subconsciously you are hit, and your mind starts to play on loop.” The 24-year-old music producer and rapper from Damascus, Syria, moved to Jordan…

“To Ask For Bread? No One Should Have To Do That.”

Amman, Jordan — The aroma of fresh bread wafts out of the bustling Al-Houri Bakery in the Tabarbour neighborhood of Amman. Established in 1991, the bakery is one of largest in the neighborhood, and is recognized for its traditional Syrian pastries. Ibrahim Al-Houri, the owner, sits at a desk behind the shelves lined with different kinds…

Europe’s Border Quandaries in a New Age of Exodus and Terror

Around the time of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris on November 14, I was arriving at the airport in Zagreb, Croatia on a brief visit to observe the impact of the Refugee Crisis on border communities in the Balkans.  There was sobering sense of connectivity between the news flashing on my mobile about the…

Grieving Father Grows Hope in Zaatari Garden

Zaatari Camp, Jordan — Mohammad Al-Hariri ushers me into his small convenience store, adjusting his hearing aid. “It’s too loud out there,” he says, nodding at the children running out of the school gates near by. The trailer turned store is dark but for some light coming in from the open door; the camp only has electricity…

Amman Skatepark a “Melting Pot” for Locals and Refugees

For young refugees finding a new life in Amman, capital of Jordan, a new skateboard park is a place of tranquility and an opportunity to have fun, make new friends, and lighten the burden of having to flee from their homelands.

Syrian Refugee Crisis Is a ‘Flood That Will Reach the Whole World’

AMMAN, Jordan — “To jump into the sea. A normal sane person does not make a decision like this until he has suffered pressure and pain so extreme that he cannot handle it anymore,” said Naser Al Jaafari, smoking on the terrace of Fann Wa Chai, a cafe and art gallery in Jabal Al Weibdeh. Jaafari and his colleagues,…

Trapped in Bureaucracy, Syrian Family is Divided Between Amman and Boston

Two gunshots fired in Syria have separated a young family across two continents. Mohammad, 16, sat down on a mat next to me in his Amman home and pointed at his left leg. “This is where the bullet entered, and this is where it exited,” he said. Mohammad lives with his father, Madian, 44, and his four…

#SnapshotsOfExile: Covering the Syrian Refugee Crisis

What does war look like? Protests. Prison cells. Checkpoints. Armed men. Flattened houses. Smoke. Parents holding the bodies of their lifeless children. Entire cities made of dusty tents. Barefoot children selling flowers. Long lines in front of embassies. Black dinghies dotted with orange life preservers that may or may not actually work. Thousands of refugees…

February 8, 2015: Photographing “Snottites,” Dodging Humpbacks With Feeding Orcas, and More

This week on National Geographic Weekend, join host Boyd Matson and his guests as they dodge humpbacks while photographing orcas, study sulfuric snot deep in caves, understand the invisible brain injuries impacting veterans, learn to tell visual stories at a photo camp in South Sudan, climb up Niagara Falls, put a magnet inside of a cow’s stomach, visit Syria’s refugee camps, and understand animal friends.