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A long way from home: Syrians in unexpected places

Dwindling options force refugees far and wide

Syrian refugee Karim, 28, rests with his nine-month-old daughter Sherire in the abandoned building where they live in Istanbul, Turkey. S. Baldwin/UNHCR
Turkey is home to nearly two million Syrian refugees

Miranda Grant/IRIN
Syrian refugees are travelling far and wide to find sanctuary

The options for Syrians fleeing the war in their country are increasingly few and far between. Europe’s controversial agreement with Turkey, combined with border closures in the Balkans and more restrictive family reunion policies, mean that door has essentially slammed shut. Syria’s neighbours have also largely sealed their borders and life for those already in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan is precarious, with limited access to jobs and schooling.

Even those Syrians who still have the resources to consider other destinations don’t have many choices. Most countries require visas that are virtually impossible for them to obtain. The handful of countries that still welcome Syrians tend to have weak systems in place to support them while they get on their feet; some don’t even recognise them as refugees.

IRIN tracked down Syrians living in four countries that have emerged as alternative destinations, but where life as a refugee remains far from easy.

Sam Cowie/IRIN
Eyad Abuharb, a former head chef from Damascus, at his kebab restaurant in Sao Paulo
Zeinab Mohammed Salih/IRIN
Abdul-Raheem Riyadh, 22, arrived in Sudan in 2012
Mamoudou Kane/IRIN
Abdelaziz Abderzak, a doctor from Darah in southern Syria, moved to Mauritania in 2012
Katarina Höije/IRIN
Mouna Khalil and her family arrived in Mali in 2013, after first fleeing Syria into Lebanon, and then flying to Mauritania and travelling overland
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