As night falls, shopping malls on Kurfuerstendamm street, one of the most famous avenues in Berlin, begin to get bustling.
Just 200 meters away from Berlin’s luxury department store KaDeWe lives Turkia Lina Ismail with other four family members, who fled from Syria to Germany in last September, in a small two-bedroom apartment, equipped with some simple furniture.
To survive the Syrian civil war, Ismail and her family had no choice but to give up their fairly affluent life as well as their big house in Damascus.
However, Ismail’s family is still very blessed, compared with other thousands of refugees living in Berlin’s largest refugee camp at the decommissioned Tempelhof Airport. Each refugee is only given 2 square meters of space, while 12 beds are piled into two floors in a 5 square-meter area.
Ismail told Xinhua in broken German that the whole family reached Greek shores from the Turkish coast on rubber boats, during which they feared for their lives.
After 15 days of enduring “physical and spiritual pain,” the family arrived at their final destination of Berlin.
However, a new life in Germany does not come easily for refugees.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants began pouring into Germany after German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated the country had a duty to provide assistance to those fleeing war.
However, due to the large numbers, most refugees had to wait up to one year doing nothing as their requests are processed. For many asylum seekers, it takes months even to get an appointment with the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
If the asylum application is approved, there are lots of obstacles for those such as Ismail’s family to rebuild their lives in Germany.
Only 9 percent of Syrians living in Germany had a job by the end of 2015, according to figures of the Institute for Employment Research.
Because of language barriers, Ismail’s husband cannot yet work in Germany, and their children cannot learn at a school. The family is currently living on subsidies.
“I made some new friends in Germany, but my new friends were not Germans,” said Odai, 14-year-old son of Ismail, who said he felt bored in his new life in Berlin, “I want to return to Syria. I miss the most the big, beautiful house in Syria.”
Germany, which received roughly 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, is seeing rising violence against them, especially after the sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne that were blamed largely on foreigners.
More than 1,000 attacks against refugee shelters occurred in Germany last year, nearly five times the amount of similar incidents in 2014, according to data released by the Federal Criminal Police Office.
Almost half of Germans said in a recent survey of German weekly news magazine Stern that the current number of foreigners and refugees was high enough and it should not rise further.
Ismail said, her family was “very lucky” to make it “from Damascus to Berlin uninjured”. However, for many Syrian refugees just like Ismail’s family who have reached their final destination Germany, their future life has come to a standstill. Enditem