31 December 2018

Ethiopia: Syrian Victims of War Begging in Streets of Addis Ababa

Photo: Voice of America/Wikipedia
Azaz, Syria.

Addis Ababa — It is no news that hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and millions displaced in neighboring countries since the civil war broke in 2011.

But it is astonishing to see Syrians fleeing thousands of miles away from home and to Africa to beg. Their first destination was Sudan, a country in economic and security turmoil. The other place they wanted to reach was Yemen, a nation devastated by war and famine.

They next jumped to Ethiopia; and it has now become daily scene to see Syrians begging in the streets of the capital city Addis Ababa.

From among these victims of violence and civil war, the Ethiopian News Agency talked to three Syrians.

A mother of four children, Nadia Mohammed, was begging along the busy street of Shola marketplace. Holding her four-year-old child, the 30 year old Syrian had left behind the other three children in a hotel she rented.

Nadia said her husband was a soldier in the Syrian army, but she doesn't know whether he is alive or killed. She last heard about him four years ago. The family had a kiosk in Dara district in Syria that was flattened. She then fled with her children to first Lebanon and then Sudan, finally to Ethiopia.

"I lost my husband and I could not bring up my children there because of the continuing crisis. Masha Allah! Ethiopians are so kind and helpful in every manner," she said.

Nadia noted the price of peace saying "Ethiopians must remain united and keep their peace learning from us. War and displacement are awful."

The other victim, Mohammed Abdulla, from Haleb town of Syria also looked for alms at Shola marketplace. With a cigarette in one hand and holding a laminated paper on which the Amharic sentence: "We are your brothers who fled from Syria because of war. We are now in dire conditions. We ask you to help us in Allah's name. May Allah bless you!" is written.

"Ethiopians must hold fast to unity and peace. Let Allah keep you from chopping each other like us," the 21year old Syrian pointed out.

His wife in the middle of the street lifts her one year and four months old daughter to plead to the passersby.

Mohammed and the family owned a small restaurant in Haleb that was ruined by the war, and the family was forced to flee to Ethiopia after they tried to live in Yemen.

"We entered Ethiopia via Sudan by bus," Mohammed Abdulla said, adding that "we chose Ethiopia because there is war in Yemen and economic crisis in Sudan."

Ahmed Faris, 23, also came through Jordan and Sudan from Idlib district terminating his university studies.

"I'm begging here to bring my parents and siblings to Ethiopia, even though my uncle was killed with his children in the war," the desperate Syrian university student added.

According to Ahmed, some of the people who were fleeing with him were forced to become members of ISIS. But he was not willing to talk about the atrocities committed on him and others by Daesh.

In the past six months, 566 Syrians entered Ethiopia mainly using tourist and transit visas. Of those, 393 have legally exited the country, it was learned.

Immigration Nationality Affairs and Vital Events Agency Deputy Communication Head, Yemane Gebremeskel said Ethiopians can draw a big lesson from the misery of Syrians.

"Though Syria is not diverse in terms of religion and ethnicity like Ethiopia and a rich country, the civil war destroyed it. We therefore have to preserve our peace, solve differences through discussion and stop conflict. No one can be a winner in a war," he stressed.

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