When Alaeddin fled Aleppo, Syria, on February 2016, he was leaving behind his wife and newborn daughter, looking forward to pave the way for them to a safe life in Europe. Now, almost 11 months later, he’s among the first group of beneficiaries – for 2017– to be relocated from Greece to Portugal, under the EU relocation programme, implemented by IOM Greece.
After arriving on the island of Lesbos and then to the port of Piraeus, Alaeddin met a Greek family that got him in their home and asked him to volunteer as a translator, helping with various issues the refugee population staying on Greece’s biggest port. He was the perfect choice, given that he’s a polyglot. “I’m fluent in English and Arabic and I also speak basic Greek, Portuguese and Chinese”. He smiles at our surprise: “Back in Syria, I had a cosmetics store. I would travel to China to import products so I got to learn the language basics as I found it helped a lot”. But, he’s not your regular salesman: “I have a degree in telecommunications and I was also studying economics which I haven’ finished yet”.
After volunteering in various camps around Athens as a translator he got a real job with an NGO, while waiting to be relocated. “This procedure takes a long time really and I feel as if I’m putting my dreams on hold”, he says. “I know that I’m off to a beautiful country with very nice people. I’m really qualified and I would like to start working as soon as possible. I would really love to work as a translator, I have lots of professional experience now and a thorough knowledge on the refugee issue. Actually, if I had the opportunity to work for an organization such as the IOM, that would be a big start for me!” he says with a big smile on his face.
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).