Hands across the water: Brazil’s large Syrian community absorbs refugees

Karin Fusaro & Luiz Fernando Godinho – UNHCR, 08/06/2013

When Syrian businessman Nidal Hassan flew to Sao Paulo a year ago it was not his first visit to Brazil, but this time he was looking for shelter and a new start rather than business opportunities.

“We didn’t have a choice because our situation in Syria became unsustainable,” said the 53-year-old from the city of Homs, which has been devastated by heavy fighting between government and rebels forces since the Syria crisis erupted in March 2011.

He said that before they left Homs, people had begun searching for food under the rubble of destroyed buildings and, “We ran out of gas and drinking water.” Nidal said he had decided to leave because they were risking their lives by staying, but his older daughter stayed behind with her husband and children.

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