TIROL, Austria—Abdullah* left Syria alone in July. Although only 16, he was at risk of being recruited into the Syrian army for mandatory service because military officials believed that he was older than he is. His father didn’t want his 16-year-old son to participate in the war so he instructed his son to flee.
Abdullah first arrived in Lebanon, leaving his father, mother and sister behind. From there, he took a boat to Turkey. From Turkey, he paid smugglers to arrange a boat to Greece. (Abdullah says he was deceived and instead of a boat as promised, he was provided with an inflatable raft from Turkey to Greece.) From Greece, Abdullah went to Macedonia, from Macedonia to Serbia, then to Hungary and eventually to Austria. Much of the journey Abdullah went by foot.
Abdullah now lives in a residential center for unaccompanied refugee youths run by SOS Children’s Villages Austria
. The center, which is located in Tirol in western Austria, offers a safe home for refugees ages14-18 who arrive alone to Austria. At the center, a team of social workers, psychologists and teachers focus on helping the youth integrate into their new society and prepare for the transition to independent adulthood.
*Name changed to protect the child's privacy.
SOS Children’s Villages in Austria is planning on providing 100 more unaccompanied, young refugees in Austria with housing placements by the end of 2015.
To learn more about how SOS is responding to the refugee crisis in Europe, Lebanon and Syria, see: sos-usa.org/refugee-crisis
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