Since 2011, over six million Syrian people have been displaced from their homeland—many as refugees. Refugees are people who fear for their safety and must leave their home country because of persecution or violence. Most refugees cannot return to their home countries.
Syria is a country in the Middle East bordering a few countries and the Mediterranean Sea. In March 2011, some Syrian citizens began protesting against the government because of political and economic issues. On top of these issues, droughts made farming and producing food difficult. The government responded with violence, and this led to some Syrians demanding the president of Syria to step down. But the president did not want to step down. Within months, the Syrian civil war broke out. This war is between people wanting a new government and the old government trying to hold its power. Many countries in the Middle East and northern Africa experienced similar conflicts. These protests and conflicts in the region became part of a movement called the Arab Spring.
After the war started in Syria, refugees started to flee the country. Many settled in neighboring countries, like Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The majority of Syrian refugees today are still in Turkey. The United States began accepting Syrian refugees near the end of 2011. However, resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States happened on a much larger scale in 2015 and 2016. Most of the refugees who were admitted between 2011 and 2016 are located in a few states and cities. These states are California, Michigan, and Texas. San Diego and Chicago are the U.S. cities with the most Syrian refugees from this time period.
In the United States, most Syrian refugees are Muslim and speak Arabic. These refugees mainly came from refugee camps in Jordan. From 2011 to 2016, about 70% of the refugees were women and children under the age of 14. Syrian refugees in the U.S. have become active members of their communities. The children go to school, and some adults have become business owners. Many new refugees settle in cities with large Syrian immigrant communities. It can be difficult to move to a new country on your own. Having other people who speak your language and understand your culture can be helpful.
Today, Syrian refugees are still settling in the United States and planting roots in American communities. Resettling in another country as a refugee is not easy, but organizations like the Syrian Community Network provide individualized help for refugee families. They also help refugee families to connect and meet one another. As Syrian refugees settle in their new communities, they often find ways to share their culture and heritage. Some Syrian refugees work in restaurants or have started small businesses. New York restaurant owner Diaa Alhanoun is one example. Alhanoun fled Syria in 2012. In the U.S., he worked in different restaurants until he helped start a restaurant that shares his Middle Eastern heritage. Even now, he is still sharing Syrian food with new audiences in the United States.
The Syrian civil war is still happening. Refugees are fleeing the country and searching for safety in other countries. The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the largest displacements of people in this century. Many Syrian refugees are still being displaced, but they are working toward building new lives around the world.