From Aleppo to America: A Syrian odyssey

The Washington Post reports: The Khoja family’s arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport Tuesday night will mark the end of an odyssey they feared they would never complete.

Beginning three years ago in the Syrian city of Aleppo, it has taken them through streets patrolled by snipers and across a militarized border where guards shoot to kill.

It has taken them through three years eking out a living in Turkey as Syria’s war killed hundreds of thousands and turned their old street into piles of shattered stone.

And last week, just when they thought they were finally safe, it left them trapped in Istanbul after one of the Trump administration’s most contentious decisions to date.

Their bags had been packed for a flight when the White House announced on Jan. 27 a ban on Syrian refugees entering the United States. “At first I thought it was a joke, that she was joking with me,” said Mahmoud Khoja, 58, remembering the phone call telling them their flights had been canceled. “I just froze.”

Tuesday night, after a week in which courts have suspended the bans over questions of their legality, Khoja and his family will arrive in New York as another court decides whether President Trump’s ban should be reinstated.

Amid the largest refugee crisis since World War II, families like the Khojas represent just the tiniest fraction of a human exodus encompassing the rich and poor of every faith. And despite the political debates in the United States and Europe, most Syrian refugees will never leave the Middle East.

After almost six years of war, Turkey is hosting at least 2.8 million refugees. In Lebanon, at least a million. Fewer than 17,000 reside in the United States. [Continue reading…]

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