The long journey to a new home

The Hanan family in Athens as they prepare to leave for Irealand
The Hanan family in Athens as they prepare to leave for Irealand
By Euronews
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

Euronews talks to a Syrian family as they leave Greece for a new life in Ireland.


In April 2017, in the Greek city of Livadia, euronews met the Hanan family from Syria

After nine difficult months in a refugee camp, they had finally moved into their own house. It came through an Asylum Seekers Accommodation Programme funded by the European Commission and overseen by the UNCHR.

Hanan Hanash was thrilled.

"Now, we live a normal life, like all people," she told euronews as she prepared a meal for her husband, Yousef, and their four young children. "Everything is good here. My children go to school. I have a home, a kitchen, I can go to the bathroom… You can say it’ s a normal life".

Back home in Idlib, Syria, Yousef Hanan owned a milk and yoghurt factory where he employed more than 40 people. When he reached Greece, he chose Ireland as a new homeland for himself, his wife and their children.

"I have some friends in Ireland," he said. "They help me, so I can get there. I already have the permission from UNHCR to go to Ireland. I don’t know when we will go. I hear it will take two or three months".

In the end, it took 10 months for the family to be granted asylum in Ireland. Euronews caught up with the Hanans in Athens, as they were getting ready to leave for their new home.

After meeting up with other refugees and a representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), they headed to the airport.

In total, 37 refugees took the flight to Paris and then on to Dublin.

"It’s been a long time," Yousef Hanan said. "We have faced huge problems. It was miserable for a long time. It’s been already 23 months in Greece".

As Yousef said goodbye to Greece, he recalled the worst moments of his time in the country. These were the nine months that his family had to live in the refugee camp, where Hanash gave birth to their youngest son.

"We lived, five persons, me and my family, in a tent, in a small tent. It was very wet during the winter. It was really bad, I can not forget these moments."

Once at the airport, as Yousef and Hanash waited for their boarding passes, an unfamiliar woman approached them. Betty Eyripioti is a British woman married to a Greek. She has lived in the country for more than 30 years and had a message and a huge hug for the departing Syrians.

"It’s not the first time that I’ve seen a group of refugees here at the airport," Eyripioti said. "And my automatic response is just to have a few words with them, to reassure them that wherever they are going, they will be welcomed. And they mustn’t be afraid!"

The IOM runs the EU relocation programme.

"For the International Organization for Migration, the essence of relocation is not to put refugees on a plane and take them to a another country," explained Christine Nikolaidou, a public information officer with the IOM. "The aim is to offer them a chance to build a new life with safety and dignity. That’s what we do".

Hanash Hanan took some last pictures of her children in Greece and told euronews about her fears and expectations for their new life in Ireland.

"I’m happy because this is the end of my journey. I’m sad because I’m leaving many friends in Greece and Syria. I’m also excited, because we start a new life with my children. I want this new start to bring a better future for my children".


About 60.000 refugees and migrants still stuck in Greece are longing to experience this same moment: to get on a plane and set out for their new homeland. The road ahead won't be easy but, for the Hanan family, a long period of uncertainty has come to an end.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Turkey: When the path to safety for Syrians is anything but | View

Don't be against us - plea of Syrian refugee family in Luxembourg

Our synagogue is a home for Syrian refugees