Altair Guimarães

Starting Over: A Syrian's New Life in the Netherlands

March 15, 2016 marked five years since the start of the Syrian conflict. It has killed 250,000 people and triggered the world’s largest displacement crisis. Half of all Syrians have fled their homes, around 4.8 million of them becoming refugees outside the country, mostly in neighbouring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Around 450,000 Syrians have been granted asylum in Europe. Hanadi is one of them. Hanadi and her family had a middle-class life in Damascus, until the fighting closed in around them. They sold all they had and fled to Turkey. Using the proceeds from the family house and car, Hanadi made her way to the Netherlands, which is known for its generous family reunification policy. We first filmed Hanadi and her family in 2014, when they had been in their new home in the small Dutch village of Kessel Eik, for three months. Sixteen months later we visited them again to see how Hanadi was getting on in her new European home. Hanadi is now divorced from her husband and is becoming proficient in Dutch, with her son now attending college in Germany. Hanadi is attempting to get into the Dutch workforce, despite being offered jobs she would be over-qualified for back home in Syria. However, Hanadi and her family continue to adapt.

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