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www.wmfd.com - As Turkey well knows, the Syrian crisis has spilled beyond Syria's borders as refugees have gone to several countries, including Egypt. }}" />

The Plight Of Syrian Refugees In Egypt

Story By: Larry Stine



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  Original Published: 9/10/2013 As Turkey well knows, the Syrian crisis has spilled beyond Syria's borders. Last week, the United Nations refugee agency announced that more than two million people have fled the fighting over the past two-and-a-half years. Refugees have gone to several countries, including Egypt. Karl Penhaul reports from Cairo. It's a hot wait, applying for safe haven. But these Syrian refugees have been through far worse to get this far. He says "The places I passed through to escape from Syria were like ghost towns. It was like a scene from the video game Resident Evil." Emad Abu Shami fled to Egypt a year ago, but he's only just now registering with the United Nations Refugee Agency. The UNHCR says it's dealing with about 1,000 asylum applications a day in Cairo. The rush has come amid concerns of growing hostility against Syrians, following Egypt's military coup. Looming U.S. airstrikes are fueling anxiety among the refugees to get their papers in order. Since July, the interim regime has applied stricter entry rules, requiring visas for the first time. "The Syrian refugees would amoount to 250,000 to 300,000, according to government estimates that had been provided to us," says Mohammed Dayri, UNHCR Regional Reprentative. "However, out of these 250,000, we have only registered 100,000 Syrian refugees." It was tough when Amr Salam and his family fled the Damascus suburb of Ghouta four months ago. Since then, he's heard many of his neighbors were killed in last month's gas attack. Going back, he says, would mean almost certain death, so today they're signing on as refugees so they can legally stay. "There was shelling and destruction when we left," says Salam. " Ghouta has been besieged for about a year now, cut off from communications, no electricity, water and even food was a problem to get." A civil war thundered around her, his wife, Safaa, says she had to dig deep for courage. "I made my heart stronger for the sake of my children," says Safaa Al-Kurdi. "Before, I had a weak heart. But whenever my children heard a shell coming, they would shake and cry. I had to act strong." Some Syrians were lucky enough to escape with savings. And, in parts of Cairo, Syrian businesses are flourishing. The hand-made cheese offers a taste of home, but as hard as he tries, it just isn't the same for owner Saad Younis. "Of course Syrian food tastes better in your own home and in your own country," says Younis. "If you're a refugee, it just doesn't taste the same." Back at the refugee center, nobody talks publicly about the pros and cons of U.S. threats to bomb Syria. Salam is just worried for family and friends he left behind. "We're afraid civilians might be hit because many military installations are in residential areas and positioned between schools and hospitals," says Salam. Abu Shami seeks solace by dwelling on happier times. "I remember how we all use to sit together, go to birthdays together, or walk through old Damascus," he says. "Those things are only a memory now." A memory barely flickering amid the ruins of war and survival as a refugee.
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