Monday, September 24, 2018
Refugee integration starts with homes
September 24, 2018
Most evenings at about 11pm, Hanan and Ismail Abbas take their four young children to play in a park near their apartment in central Athens. “Local families are out enjoying the cooler temperatures so we feel safe being out so late,” says Ismail, a 33-year-old footwear designer who fled to Greece last year from the Syrian city of Aleppo.
“We eat ice-cream and practise speaking Greek to our neighbours.”
Mr Abbas was granted refugee status after crossing from Turkey in a smuggler’s boat and spending two months in a camp on the island of Kos.
He was later able to bring his family to Athens and now has a job with a small Greek business exporting handmade shoes. He says: “I was lucky to find work in Athens, not only a house.”
The family lives in a middle-class neighbourhood in a flat rented by SolidarityNow, a Greek non-governmental organisation founded by George Soros, which is participating in a European Union-funded programme that aims to house up to 27,000 vulnerable refugees.