Resettled refugees start a new chapter of their lives

Ali, Aya and their four children resettled to Switzerland in June of 2019 with the hope of being able to study and achieve their dreams in their new home country. Photo: Muse Mohammed/IOM

Ali and Aya sit on the last piece of furniture left in their Beirut apartment. They have packed their family’s suitcases and given the rest of their belongings – beds and blankets, kitchenware and cleaning supplies – to fellow Syrian refugees in the Lebanese capital.

Among their most treasured belongings, Ali has packed four matching red and white Swiss national football team jerseys, they bought at a local market.

The couple and their four children are just a few days away from calling Switzerland their new home. The details of the day his family was informed their resettlement case had been accepted by the Swiss Government are fresh in Ali’s mind.

“Imagine your favourite team is in the World Cup. Both teams have an even score, until the final minute. A player scores a goal and wins the game.

This was my children’s reaction, jumping on top of me until I fell over. We were all celebrating,” said the 32-year-old carpenter.

They are among the fortunate few: Globally only 92,400 of 25.4 million refugees were resettled in 2018. Their new life in Switzerland will be a stark contrast to the violence experienced in Syria.

An estimated 900,000 Syrians have been registered as refugees in Lebanon since the conflict erupted in 2011.

Since that time, the International Organization for Migration – which has been involved in refugee resettlement since its creation in 1951 – has worked alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to resettle some 100,000 refugees – mainly Syrians – to 25 countries, including Canada, Australia and European Member States.

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