Life as a refugee

New year: The hopes and wishes of crisis-hit people across the region

As we welcome the new year, people affected by crises across the Middle East reflect back on 2022 and share their wishes for a better 2023.

People affected by crises around the world welcome 2023 with a heavy heart

As people around the world said goodbye to 2022 and welcomed the new year with celebrations, people affected by crises around the world welcome 2023 with a heavy heart, wondering what challenges the new year might bring. We asked Syrian refugees in Jordan and displaced people in Iraq and Yemen, what their wishes for 2023 are – meet Abdelmalek from Jordan, Fouad and Nadia from Yemen, Afifa and Jihan from Iraq.

Wishing for a year of work success

Wishing for a year of work success

“2022 started off on the wrong foot for me. My mother returned to Syria and my brother, and his wife emigrated to Germany. I was left all alone in Jordan,” said Abdelmalek. 

As the year progressed, along with struggling emotionally, Abdelmalek struggled financially as work stopped coming his way. “After receiving several certificates, I started working as a graphic designer and was previously able to make enough money to cover my needs and help out my family. Since the beginning of 2022, I have barely been able to make ends meet,” he added. 

As 2023 approaches, the 30-year-old man hopes for a better year and more work opportunities. “Things are starting to look better. I got a grant from the Danish Refugee Council [DRC] which allowed me to buy a new desk, lamps, and other equipment I needed to focus. I am starting to receive some work requests as well. I hope next year will bring me more stability, and maybe I can start my own family,” he added with a small smile.

For Syria, Abdelmalek wishes peace and safety for people across the country.

After a year of challenge, here's to a better year

After a year of challenge, here's to a better year

Both Nadia and Fouad in Yemen have had a difficult year, with Nadia lacking the resources to take care of her children and Fouaad losing his wife and becoming a single parent.

“The past year has been extremely hard. I have eight children but I am the sole provider for three of them,” said Nadia. “After my husband passed away two years ago, I was no longer able to afford schooling for my children. I work selling plants and one of my sons works in a car wash just so we can pay rent at the end of the month, which is 60,000 Yemeni Riyals [USD 110].”

Without a stable source of income, and while making the bare minimum, Nadia and her children had many nights where they could not put food on the table. “The economic situation continues to worsen. We don’t have enough money to seek medical care if any of us falls ill,” added Nadia. “I hope 2023 will bring back the good old days when we did not worry about our next meal and could afford our needs.”

Fouad’s year was not better.

Fouad’s year was not better.

Fouad is currently a single father to his three children, and getting used to living without his wife, brought new situations to deal with. “Along with grief, we have not been feeling safe and have been unable to make ends meet. The worsening economic crisis and the lack of work opportunities has made our lives harder,” said Fouad.

 Having lived in Aden for most of his life, Fouad’s heart breaks whenever he remembers what the city used to look like before the conflict. “Aden was one of the most developed cities in the country. The conflict has ruined this beautiful city; we no longer have access to basic needs like water and electricity,” he added.

 “I hope 2023 will bring a better, more peaceful and stable future. I am currently the sole provider for my family, but my children are all university graduates, who I hope would be able to find jobs and build their own lives next year,” he finished hopefully.

A better mental state and self-acceptance

A better mental state and self-acceptance

For 15-year-old Zaynab, 2022 brought a better mental state and self-acceptance. “Our father left us and I struggled with moving on from that. I started 2022 wanting to end my life, but after participating in DRC’s activities, my mental state improved and I became more confident,” said Zaynab. “I will continue my journey towards improving my mental health during 2023. I would also love to learn to read and write and go back to school.”

 While her family have no plans of returning to their home area, young Zaynab wishes for a better future for her family in the Darya village, Iraq, the place they call their home. “We lost our house during the conflict and we have nowhere to return to. I hope 2023 will bring us more stability and we can finally own land again and build a better life for ourselves,” she added.

“Making my business women-friendly was a priority"

“Making my business women-friendly was a priority"

Jehan started 2022 feeling anything but empowered. “I was working in a date packaging factory, which is a male-dominated industry in our area. Along with defying the traditions and tribal customs which only allowed women to work in certain industries, I was barely making enough money to cover transportation costs,” said the 27-year-old woman.

In mid-2022, Jehan received a business grant from DRC which allowed her to start her own date packaging factory. “Making my business women-friendly was a priority. Today, I have 15 female workers and 25 workers in total. I make sure they get fair wages that can help them support their families,” said Jehan. “I hope that 2023 will see me expand my work and buy better equipment to help me grow the business. I would also love to see more women receiving business grants and allowed into male-dominated industries like agriculture, livestock and working in factories,” she finished.

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