Reuniting Syria’s Families

Germany and the UN Migration Agency’s Family Assistance Programme

Bedour reunited with her husband in a German airport. This is the first time Bedour’s husband met his first child. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Bedour’s husband was already in Germany, when she gave birth to their first child. Like many other Syrian mothers living through the conflict, she cared for her newborn daughter by herself and, against all odds, managed to reach Istanbul safely. IOM’s, the UN Migration Agency, Family Assistance Programme (FAP) staff in Istanbul guided Bedour through the family reunification application process. A few months later in Germany, the young family was able to embrace for the first time.

Anan and her two children, Hisham and Juman, missed their first appointment with the German Embassy in Ankara. They were still living in Syria at the time and were unable to cross into Turkey for the appointment. Anan had been separated from her husband, Mohamad, when he had made the journey from Syria to Germany some years ago. A few weeks after the missed appointment, Anan heard about FAP, which helps family members of people with refugee status in Germany navigate through the reunification visa application process. FAP staff helped Anan reschedule their visa interview in Gaziantep, which was closer to where she was then living in Turkey. At the Family Assistance Centre, Anan took part in an integration course provided by IOM. She wanted to be well prepared for her new life in Germany with her husband.

Hisham and Juman stand in front of their new should in Germany. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Three months from the day she first stepped foot in the Family Assistance Centre, Anan and her two children were finally ready to travel. Today, the family is reunited, and Hisham and Juman are enrolled in school in Troisdorf, Germany.

“You were my family when I faced the toughest days of my life away from Syria,”

said Anan, thanking IOM for their support to her family when they were in Turkey.

When Nour started the family reunification process in February 2017, she never thought that she would have a German visa in her hands in just ten days. She cried when she held her passport for the first time, made slightly heavier by the new visa. Nour is now trying to move on from the hardship she faced in Syria as she prepares for the move to Germany, where will join her husband, Issam.

“We will finally be back together as a family after almost two years of separation. Even now, I can’t believe this is real,”

said Anan to FAP staff, when she received her visa.

Souad with her children at IOM’s Family Assistance Centre in Gaziantep. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Before they could escape to Turkey, Souad had lived in Damascus with her children, Zahara and Ahmad. In Gaziantep, she contacted the Family Assistance Centre in the hope of being reunited with her husband, Samer, a refugee in Germany. The FAP team helped Souad prepare the required documents that led to her eventual reunion with Samer in Germany. Like Anan, Souad attended the integration classes held in the FAP office. Child care services are provided for all participants in the classes, if needed. Souad’s family is now living together, looking ahead to brighter days.

Tasnim and Sham with an IOM staff member in the Family Assistance Centre in Istanbul. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Tasnim and Sham had not seen their father, Alaa, in more than two years. To further complicate matters, the two young children and their mother, Husam, could not make it to their first scheduled appointment to apply for family reunification. This caused them considerable anxiousness and stress. After visiting the FAP office in Istanbul, they were channeled through a fast track procedure ensuring that they had a new appointment within a week. A few months later, Tasnim, Sham, and Husam, traveled to Germany. They now live together as a family.

The Family Assistance Programme is designed to protect vulnerable migrants by providing alternatives to unsafe and irregular journeys undertaken to reach relatives. Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, FAP facilitates the reunification of vulnerable migrant families, with a recognized refugee in Germany, fleeing from the protracted Syrian and Iraqi conflicts.Since the start of operations in June 2016, the Family Assistance Programme has assisted over 170,600 beneficiaries.


This story was posted by Olivia Headon, the UN Migration Agency’s Information Officer for Emergencies based its Headquarters in Geneva. To contact Olivia, please email oheadon@iom.int.

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