Where Do They Want to Go?
When asked what the best country for Syrians is, “Syria” was always listed first. However, after this option, the ideal destination countries have shifted from Germany and Canada in 2016 to Canada, Belgium, France, and Denmark in 2018. Social media has spread endless stories of mistreatment and poor living conditions for Syrians in Germany and Sweden, while the political climate of the US makes it undesirable. One Syrian woman who had been physically injured from an attack by the Assad-led military laughed at Donald Trump, saying America has the “craziest president.”
France and Belgium are widely believed to be racist against Muslims, but still preferable to what are believed to be bad living conditions in Germany and Sweden based on reports through social media from Syrians arrived there in 2015. Almost everyone we spoke with had extended family or friends in Europe and elsewhere who sent back stories, however, only a third of those who had heard from relatives or friends in Europe had been encouraged to join them. Most told stories of endless paperwork, cold European bureaucrats, and feelings of isolation amidst respectful but cold host communities, as well as challenges with new European languages.
Kuwait, UAE, and other Gulf states have become a more logistically feasible second choice to Western destinations, where wages are higher than Jordan, welfare programs more generous and reliable, and the cultural and linguistic challenges of moving to the West are not an issue.