REFUGEES FROM ALEPPO END UP IN RUNDOWN GERMAN TOWN
October 24, 2012 Wednesday 2:43 PM EST
Eisenhuettenstadt, Germany (dpa) – Aleppo jeweller Peter Amadouni
has given up everything to save his family; a beautiful home, a
cherished profession. The Amadouni family enjoyed the good life in
Syria’s largest city until it became one of the worst battle zones
of the 20-month conflict.
“We were able to see the jets from the balcony,” Amadouni says.
When the situation became too dangerous for this family, which has
Christian Armenian roots, the 47-year-old man decided to go into
exile with his wife Hasmig and their two sons.
Their journey did not come cheap. The people who arranged the trip
across the Turkish border by truck and onwards through Greece, Italy
and Austria charged the once prosperous family 46,000 dollars.
Amadouni is now sitting on a rickety bed in makeshift accommodation
watching the leaves fall in the German autumn. The family has found
temporary refuge in Eisenhuettenstadt, a declining steel town on the
border with Poland after an arduous journey across Europe.
They are currently waiting for their application for asylum to be
processed, living in two rooms in a rundown barracks once used by
the police of communist East Germany.
But they are safe. “We are very grateful for what the people here are
doing for us,” Amadouni says. His regrets at what they left behind
are supported by the photographs that Hasmig Amadouni has saved on
her mobile phone.
They show her hairdressing salon, the comfortable home and the large
car that were once theirs, along with their dog Sweety which had to
Her heart remains in Aleppo where her parents and those of her husband
remain. “We haven’t heard from them in weeks,” she says, gazing at
The civil war is forcing ever increasing numbers of Syrians to leave
their country, with tens of thousands streaming across the border
into refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. The numbers going further
afield have thus far been limited but they are increasing.
Whereas in 2011, just 100 Syrians arrived in Eisenhuettenstadt,
the number in the first nine months of this year was 133. “That is
a considerable rise,” says government official Norbert Wendorf.
>>From his experience with Afghan refugees, he has seen families
like the Amadounis before. “They leave everything behind, give up
the shirts on their backs,” he says.
The home in Eisenhuettenstadt is now full, with 549 of the theoretical
550 places taken. Most of the current residents are economic migrants
from Serbia and Macedonia, rather than political refugees from Syria.
On arrival in the western city of Dusseldorf, the Amadounis were
allocated to the Eisenhuettenstadt facility, which is surrounded by
a high fence to ensure their own safety.
Refugee homes have in the past been targets for extremists opposed
to the influx of refugees from other cultures.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said recently that most
of the Syrian refugees were intent on returning to their homes,
suggesting their stay would not be for the longer term.
But Peter Amadouni is not hopeful that the war will end soon and is
already considering the option of starting life again in Germany,
“preferably as a jeweller, but I’ll do anything,” he says.