These males fled battle in Syria to Ukraine. Now they’ve fled once more.

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These males fled battle in Syria to Ukraine. Now they’ve fled once more.
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In a small church corridor final spring in East London, about two dozen individuals who had fled the battle in Ukraine drank tea and shared lunch as they tried to fulfill members of their new group.

Amongst them had been two younger males, Abdul Safwa and Muhsen Hamed, who smiled and chatted away with the group in Russian and snippets of Ukrainian as they shared their harrowing experiences.

Muhsen Hamed and Abdul Safwa, two Syrians who fled Ukraine in the beginning of the battle, attend an occasion in London for folks displaced, Could 14, 2022. “I nonetheless don’t know if I can keep right here or not,” stated Safwa, alluding to his asylum declare. (Andrew Testa/The New York Occasions)

However in contrast to the others gathered for the lunch, this was the second time the lads had been displaced: first from their residence nation, Syria, after which from Ukraine, the place that they had spent the previous decade dwelling in limbo.

“I nonetheless don’t know if I can keep right here or not,” stated Safwa, detailing how that they had each utilized for asylum in Britain. “How will they act with us? Will they deal with us like Ukrainians or Syrians?”

Greater than 7 million folks have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded it in late February, in response to figures from the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees. The overwhelming majority had been Ukrainian nationals eligible for a plan for momentary resettlement in Britain by the Houses for Ukrainians visa program. European Union nations have provided momentary, visa-free protections for many who have fled the battle.

Muhsen Hamed, a Syrian who fled Ukraine in the beginning of the battle, at a library in London, Sept. 21, 2022. Hamed is making an attempt to enhance his English by studying books like Sherlock Holmes. (Andrew Testa/The New York Occasions)

However amongst those that fled had been additionally folks reminiscent of Safwa and Hamed whose standing falls right into a grey space, and whose seek for a secure and affluent place to construct new lives has been sophisticated. And in some nations, together with Britain, they obtain extra restricted assist than Ukrainian residents who fled the identical battle as they attempt to decide up the items of their lives.

With out Ukrainian citizenship, the lads had been ineligible to use for the visa packages that provide momentary resettlement to those that fled the battle in Ukraine. As an alternative, they surreptitiously entered Britain by Eire — which has allowed for visa-free journey for these fleeing the battle — after which utilized for asylum.

Muhsen Hamed traces his path to Britain from Odesa, Ukraine, on a ground map on the Maritime Museum in London, Sept. 21, 2022. (Andrew Testa/The New York Occasions)

Shabia Mantoo, a world spokesperson for the UN refugee company, stated the phenomenon of individuals fleeing a couple of battle on this means — referred to as a number of displacement — is extremely difficult and more and more widespread because the variety of folks displaced by battle continues to rise globally. “It’s a very precarious scenario,” she stated.

Though Mantoo didn’t weigh in on Safwa’s and Hamed’s instances, she stated that of their responses to Ukrainian nationals fleeing the battle, European nations have proven what they will do to assist.

Muhsen Hamed, a Syrian who fled Ukraine in the beginning of the battle, works out in London, Sept. 21, 2022. Not allowed to work in England, Hamed spends a part of his free time at an area fitness center. (Andrew Testa/The New York Occasions)

Attitudes and messaging towards different asylum-seekers, in the meantime, have usually been much less welcoming.

“I feel what Ukraine has proven us is that when there’s a political dedication, a humane strategy can prevail and refugees may be hosted,” Mantoo stated. International locations world wide, together with Britain, have been sending billions of {dollars}’ value of support to Ukraine to assist it battle Russia.

Safwa and Hamed had been college students in Ukraine when Syria’s civil battle started in 2011, and so they selected to not return residence out of worry that they might be conscripted.

Abdul Safwa, a Syrian who fled Ukraine in the beginning of the battle, subsequent to the River Thames in London, Sept. 21, 2022. “They advised me, ‘You may’t work,’” he stated. “They offer us this lodge, they offer us meals, however why? Simply allow us to work.” (Andrew Testa/The New York Occasions)

Hamed had been learning on the Nationwide Maritime Academy within the southern Ukrainian metropolis of Odesa since 2009, within the hopes of changing into a sailor after which a captain. When battle started in Syria, he utilized for asylum in Ukraine.

However he and Safwa, who turned buddies in Odesa, discovered themselves dwelling in limbo. They by no means obtained full refugee standing in Ukraine, which might have allowed them to ultimately grow to be residents, however, slightly, had been granted the extra restricted “humanitarian safety” standing.

Consequently, Hamed couldn’t get the mandatory hours of expertise on a ship to grow to be a captain. They had been in a position to work however couldn’t go away the nation, even to see members of the family who had additionally fled Syria. After which, when Russia invaded Ukraine, they discovered themselves refugees as soon as extra.

FILE — Hundreds queue to board trains certain for Poland in Lviv, Ukraine, March 4, 2022. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Occasions)

“My household advised me, ‘We noticed what occurred in Syria. Don’t stay,’” Hamed stated. So, days after the battle started Feb. 24, he and 4 buddies boarded a packed prepare headed west towards the Polish border. Ultimately, they crossed it by automotive.
Safwa had been dwelling in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, when the battle broke out. He had spent years making an attempt to restart his life, establishing a profitable tourism enterprise.

That every one evaporated in a single day, and he knew he needed to go away, fearing a chronic battle in Ukraine.

“We all know Russia from what it did to Syria. It’s not new to us,” Safwa stated. “They don’t care in regards to the civilian folks, who’s within the military, who’s a civilian. They bomb all people. I realised this instantly, and I made my choice. I made a decision I might escape.”

He drove to Poland with neighbours the day after the invasion started. Then he heard from Hamed.

FILE — Ukrainians clear up particles after a residential constructing was hit by missiles within the nation’s capital of Kyiv, Feb. 25, 2022. (Lynsey Addario/The New York Occasions)

Collectively, the lads ultimately determined to journey on to Britain. They thought it might supply them one of the best likelihood to begin over as a result of they each converse some English and have household connections within the nation. However to get there, they needed to circumvent visa necessities, which is why they traveled first to Eire, which had looser restrictions for refugees from the battle in Ukraine. Then they crossed the open border into Northern Eire, which is a part of the UK.

Hamed and Safwa utilized for asylum after they arrived in England, in mid-March.

“I advised them I don’t have wherever to return to,” Hamed stated of the immigration brokers with Britain’s Dwelling Workplace dealing with his asylum request. “I needed to use for asylum as a result of I don’t have any residence wherever.”

The lads know of a handful of different Syrians who took the same path to Britain from Ukraine. Initially, the Dwelling Workplace had allowed solely Ukrainians dwelling in Britain to sponsor members of the family fleeing the battle. However within the spring, it launched a second program, one that enables Ukrainians who do not need members of the family in Britain to be sponsored by a resident and lets them stay within the nation for as much as three years.

The Dwelling Workplace is chargeable for Britain’s asylum system and has more and more taken motion to stamp out the usage of irregular routes into the nation by these fleeing battle — together with making an attempt to impose a variety of insurance policies which have been criticized by human rights teams and consultants in worldwide asylum norms.

A plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda has been denounced by the UN refugee company and challenged in Britain’s excessive court docket.

The Dwelling Workplace declined to weigh in on the particulars of Safwa’s and Hamed’s instances, as is its coverage, but it surely pointed to the federal government’s present insurance policies for Ukrainian residents searching for momentary refuge in Britain.

“Individuals ought to declare asylum within the first nation they attain or, for these in want of our safety, utilizing one in every of our secure and authorized routes to return to the UK,” the Dwelling Workplace stated in an announcement.

Asylum-seekers like Safwa and Hamed usually linger in Britain’s asylum system, awaiting a call on claims that might take months and even years to resolve.

Till then, they’re housed in hostels or inns, supplied with meals and given 8 kilos per week, or about $9, to purchase fundamental necessities and pay for public transportation. However they’re unable to work, one thing Safwa and Hamed say they’re desperate to do.

“They advised me, ‘You may’t work,’” Safwa stated. “They offer us this lodge, they offer us meals, however why? Simply allow us to work.”

For now, they spend their days taking English lessons, visiting the fitness center and getting conversant in London. Hamed has been studying Sherlock Holmes books to enhance his English and sometimes takes walks alongside the River Thames close to the Nationwide Maritime Museum in Greenwich. He nonetheless goals of changing into a captain.

“As a result of I’m a sailor, and I want to in the future work on this job,” he stated of his frequent visits. “So after I go to the museum, it makes me a bit bit happier.”





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