MALAYSIA has begun to be the destination of choice for Syrians fleeing the chaos of their home country and the inhospitable reception they have been subjected to in Europe.
For Ahmed Zaki Khawla, the choice of heading to Malaysia became his next option after failing to make his way to Europe.
"After trying to go to Europe, I researched about Malaysia. I found that Malaysia offered the best solution. Practically, I would need about USD14,000 to be relocated on top of the USD600 - USD700 cost of paying our way per person to get here. So it was easier for me to come to Malaysia.”
Coming to Malaysia, however does not promise a brighter future, amid challenges faced, especially adapting to a new country he now calls home.
SEE PHOTOS OF SYRIAN REFUGEES IN MALAYSIA, HERE
After bearing all the troubles of escape and journey, it is the warmth and friendliness of Malaysia the country and its people keep his spirits up, persuading him to live in Malaysia, making a new life apart from his family and friends.
“(Malaysians) are very friendly and open minded. They are willing to help and I plan to stay, live and die here.”
Statistics from UNCHR reveals that until last February, some 1,878 Syrian refugees are registered as living in Malaysia.
Malaysian Lifeline For Syria, an humanitarian NGO involved in helping the relocation process of Syrian refugees in Malaysia expects some 500 to 1000 Syrians will arrive in these shores this year.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had, at the UN’s General Assembly in October 2015 pledged to offer a haven to 3,000 Syrian refugees.
However, this number is relatively much smaller than the total number of Syrian refugees that have and will continue to want to flee the troubles back in their homeland.
UNCHR statistics show that there are estimated to be a total of five million refugees now scattered across the globe.
Many of them are also seeking asylum in Europe, especially in Germany. Last year, 269,000 Syrians sought asylum in the country.
Most of Ahmed’s family members are now in Europe after risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in small boats. They formed a portion of the 83,000 Syrian refugees who had used the same route in 2006 until Marc this year who took the decision to flee their country.
But the risks are too high as the number of people dead or missing while crossing the sea to Europe has doubled since 2013.
These numbers won’t go down anytime soon as tensions are high as a result of the continued troubles that have not totally subsided in Syria. The latest chemical weapon and subsequent Tomahawk missile response by the United States do not point to any imminent solution in sight.