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Syrian refugee jumps for joy after finding asylum in Moldova

Telling the Human Story, 19 November 2012

© Dimitri Doru
Raghid Jened became a refugee when he was unable to return to his native Syria and is now working in Moldova as an ear, nose and throat doctor.

CHIŞINĂU, Moldova, November 19 (UNHCR) Syrian-born Raghid Jened is a success story for the integration of refugees: a doctor, a certified Arabic-Russian translator and a passionate skydiver, he doesn't see himself living anywhere else than Moldova.

Before coming to Chişinău 13 years ago to study, Jened knew little about Moldova. "I only heard that it is a small and safe country, where people are kind, just like in Syria," he said. "And now, after so much time living here, I can confirm that these things are true."

His first days in Chişinău were difficult, especially because he didn't know the language. At first he regretted his decision to study outside his homeland, but soon he started learning Russian and some Romanian and found new Moldovan friends who made him feel at home.

"I am lucky to have people by my side who care for me just as my parents do," Jened said. Moreover, he feels Chişinău is his home not only because he watched it grow and develop, but also because he now knows it better than his own town in Syria, Homs.

The Syrian uprising began in March 2011, just as Jened was completing his medical degree with a speciality in otolaryngology at one of Moldova's leading hospitals.

As the fighting across the country worsened, his home town of Homs was deeply affected. His parents are still there, he said, doing their best to survive, but because of the bombings and fighting they live with friends while his brother is now in hiding. Jened has not been able to speak to his parents in weeks as telephone lines only work intermittently. He hopes to be able to help his parents somehow although it seems very difficult to evacuate them for the time being, he said

Because of the ongoing conflict, Jened was unable to return to Syria. Instead he approached Moldova's Refugee Directorate to seek asylum as a refugee sur place and was granted complementary protection. At present there are 75 Syrians with protection in the Republic of Moldova, most having arrived over the last year.

Since obtaining protection, Jened has received legal and social support as well as financial aid and in-kind assistance from UNHCR and its implementing partners, for which he is very grateful.

But he is not helpless and has skills to contribute. With his local medical degree he found work as an ear, nose and throat doctor in Chişinău's main hospital, the Centre for Mother and Child Care. "I enjoy working with children and I plan to keep working with them," Jened said.

Apart from loving his work as a doctor, Jened is passionate about skydiving. "I started jumping in 2003, just out of curiosity, afterwards I couldn't stop," he said smiling broadly. He obtained a professional skydiving license in 2011 and jumps as often as the weather allows.

Recently, to demonstrate his appreciation for the support that UNHCR has provided, he took several UNHCR flags on one of his jumps to promote the UN refugee agency's work.

When asked about his future, Jened excitedly speaks about his hopes to eventually obtain Moldovan citizenship, his wish to obtain an advanced Doctor of Medicine degree, and his desire to help his parents and ultimately to start a family in Moldova, which, at least for the time being, is his home.

By Irina Ungureanu in Chişinău, Moldova

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