Sept. 7, 2016
Elizabeth Weingarten wrote for Time about female refugees in Germany:
Enana Alassar sits on a colorful stage at a recent Berlin street festival, holding her guitar, about to sing. “This is about how I came from Syria to Berlin,” she says to the audience.
Her song is a truncated version of a painful journey, and there are a few details that the 22-year-old Syrian refugee doesn’t share in the lyrics that describe being “stuffed into a mini-van” and driving a “sinking boat”: That sinking boat was supposed to seat two, and was crammed with 16 people. She paddled it from Turkey to Greece because the engine didn’t work. A smuggler stuffed her and others into a mini-van, where she was told someone would come and pick them up; no one did. The group was attacked by packs of dogs.
And she leaves out what was for her another surprising part of the journey: the conditions she found when she arrived in Berlin last August. At that point, the country was just starting to receive massive flows of migrants, predominantly fleeing conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan. While other countries around the world closed their borders, Germany welcomed them. The country received more than 476,000 asylum applicants— about 31% of them women—in 2015, and more than one million refugees arrived in the country. But humanitarian workers say it was unprepared for the massive influx—especially when it came to refugee women.