Fouad, Mohammad and Hamza
It is the last group of Syrian refugees to be relocated from Greece for 2016. Destination, Norway. Among the 33-strong group attending the cultural orientation session at IOM Greece’s headquarters, Fouad and Mohammad seem particularly cheerful and they constantly joke about the cold Norwegian winter that awaits them, making everyone laugh.
Fouad, a trained electrician, left from Aleppo and arrived on the island of Lesbos, Greece, 9 months ago, after spending six months in Turkey. In a camp outside Thessaloniki he met Mohammad, a ceramist from Deir Ez-Zor, who has been here about the same time, accompanying his 8-year-old nephew, Hamza. They became close friends and as luck has it, they will continue the journey to a new life together, in Norway.
“I’m really happy to go, we can finally get some peace of mind, feel a little better”, Fouad says. For both men, the priority is to learn the language and get a job as soon as possible. “I would also like to study”, says Mohammad as Fouad nods approvingly. Young Hamza, who has been playing by the Christmas tree, runs into Mohammad’s arms. Orphaned by a father, he left on the perilous journey with his uncle. Now, they hope they will be able to bring Hamza’s mother and siblings to Norway. So, how does Hamza feel about the journey? “I don’t want to go to Norway, but I will go, there will be a lot of snow”.
Fouad, as we say goodbye, says: “You should get us in touch with your IOM colleagues in Norway so that we can have friends already waiting for us!”
According to IOM official data, 7,068 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece to other European countries.
Through the EU Relocation Programme, the International Organization for Migration in Greece (IOM) supports the Government of Greece in relocating with safety and dignity asylum seekers to other EU Member States of Relocation (MSR). The Programme is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union (AMIF).