Syrian woman returns to live in Turkey’s Gaziantep despite getting ‘refugee status’ in Germany

Syrian woman has returned to Turkey despite being granted refugee status in Germany, saying life in Germany “did not turn out the way she expected.”

The 32-year-old woman, only identified as Dima, was born in Aleppo and started to study English Language and Literature at the University of Aleppo. After leaving university she got married and gave birth to a son, who is now nine years old.

After the civil war in the country broke out, Dima and her husband crossed the border into Turkey in 2012 to look for a job. Two years later she joined her husband in Turkey.

“I arrived in Gaziantep with my son and started Turkish classes. I knew things would be hard and our standards would be lower compared to our lives in Syria,” she said. After a short time living in Gaziantep, she started to work as a coordinator in a non-governmental organization.

In 2015, Dima’s husband decided to try to head to Germany.

“All Syrians were trying to reach Germany. My husband managed to Germany through Bodrum, then Greece, Hungary and Austria. In 2016 I also went to Germany with my son thanks to the family reunion right,” she said.

But Dima said the “new life” they expected to have in Germany never materialized.

“There was a constant ‘waiting’ situation in all bureaucratic procedures. Just registering my name at the integration office to find a job took a month,” she said.

“I am a well-educated Syrian but I observed intense prejudice against refugees in Germany. What’s more, social life is not vibrant in Germany; people don’t talk to each other,” she added.

Dima eventually fell ill because of the stress and decided to return to Turkey after three months in hospital.

“I waived my ‘refugee status’ in Germany and renewed my residence permit in Turkey. My husband had risked his life to reach a ‘new life’ in German so he didn’t want to return to Turkey,” she said.

Eventually, Dima came back to Gaziantep in March 2017.

“Germany supports refugees at every step but refugees can only take care of themselves in Turkey. That’s why many choose to go to Germany. But I know many people who are unhappy there,” she said.

“You have numerous opportunities but you can’t be yourself. You are constantly under control of something or somebody. I thought: If I can establish a free and nice life in Turkey, why would I go to Germany? Plus I love Gaziantep because it looks like Aleppo,” Dima added.