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Fleeing Syria, Seeking Refuge


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Image by: UN, Syrian Refugees

Image by: UN, Syrian Refugees

Over 2 million Syrians have been displaced by that country’s ongoing civil war. Neighboring countries are overwhelmed with refugees. So where else to turn? Heading to more affluent nations isn’t so easy. On this edition, we meet refugees who’ve fled Syria to Turkey, Sweden, and Thailand. They’re trying to navigate a fragmented global refugee policy, in a time of extreme need.

Special thanks to our freelance reporters Dalia Mortada, Christopher Holmback, Julia Lundberg, Simba Russeau.


  • Ahmad Dabbagh, Ayham Al Fares, Sania, Kais Badro, Syria refugees,
  • Abu Sarah, Hassan Mohammad, Palestinian refugees from Syria.
  • Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International Turkey researcher.
  • Sanna Vestin, Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups chairman.
  • Gregor Noll, Lund University professor of international law.
  • Anoop Sukumaran, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network coordinator.
  • Patra Jirawisan, Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation Policy & Research Officer.
  • Mother Agnes Mariam, Mother Superior of St. James the Mangled Monastery in Qara, Syria.
  • Host/Producer: Andrew Stelzer
  • Producers: Nancy Lopez, Andrew Stelzer, George Lavender
  • Contributing Producers: Dalia Mortada, Christopher Holmback, Julia Lundberg, Simba Russeau

Syrian refugee stories from around the world

(Click on tabs to hear stories)

Turkey-Legal Limbo for 500,000 Syrians

330867_IstanbulIn Turkey the refugee crisis has reached unprecedented proportions. Tens of thousands of Afghans have arrived in an effort to get to the European Union, as well as thousands more from Asia and Africa. And more recently, war ravaged Syria to its south has sent more than half a million refugees across the border. But Turkey’s complex refugee laws have left the vast majority of these asylum seekers in legal limbo: they can’t leave Turkey to seek asylum elsewhere, and they’re not legally allowed to work or gain access to basic services like health care. For more, Dalia Mortada reports from Istanbul.

Turkey-Legal Limbo for 500,000 Syrians


Sweden-“Open Doors” for Refugees…at a Perilous Risk

9b8d93af5bfbd860b6a38d4ebd86ebf6867f6ba4When it comes to embracing refugees, Sweden is known to be among the friendliest countries in the European Union. Even more so after the Swedish Migration Board announced in September 2013 that every Syrian who goes straight to Sweden can get a permanent residence permit. Over 20,000 Syrians have applied for refugee status in Sweden in 2013, and the vast majority of them are expected to receive asylum. The problem is getting all the way to Sweden. Thousands have died trying to sneak into the EU, and their situation made headlines in October, when a boat full of migrants sank and 366 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, outside Italy. Now, for the first time in decades, several Swedish politicians are publicly demanding that refugees be given legal and safe possibilities to seek asylum in Sweden and other EU countries. Christopher Holmback and Julia Lundberg have more.

Sweden-“Open Doors” for Refugees…at a Perilous Risk

Palestinians Fleeing Syria Head to Thailand Hoping for a New Start

N.Daoud_lineof refugeesWith a national identity that isn’t honored in all countries, the half a million Palestinians living in Syria have a short list of countries that will open their doors.  So when word got out that Palestinians fleeing Syria could enter Thailand on a tourists visa, a small trickle began to migrate.  But as Simba Russeau reports from Bangkok, Thailand has no domestic legal framework that handles refugee issues. So those few hundred Palestinians fleeing the violence in Syria are part of a new wave of refugees forcing Thailand to take a look at providing protections for those seeking a safe place to live.

Palestinians Fleeing Syria Head to Thailand Hoping for a New Start


Syrian Refugees: As an Urban Refugee in Turkey

There are more than 650,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey. Some 200,000 are housed in refugee camps along the border, but more than 460,000 live more precarious lives as urban refugees. One of them, Abdul Rahman, lives in the southern city of Urfa. It’s been tough but the young man keeps his dreams alive.


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