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IECS Report 6 by Heleen de Graaf

During her internship at the Institute of Eastern Christian Studies in the first half of 2020, master student Heleen de Graaf conducted a research into the situation of Syrian Christian refugees in the Netherlands. She wrote a report on her findings.

During the past years large groups of Syrians fled their homeland because of the Syrian civil war. The Netherlands faced an influx of refugees, also of Syrian Christians, who faced not only the consequences of oppression and civil war, but also the increase of sectarian violence.

The Syrian Christians who were interviewed for this report are satisfied with their current life situation in the Netherlands. They trust the Dutch government and highly value the freedom of religion. Difficulties arise when entering the labour market. Syrians (Christians and others) are disappointed that certificates are much more important than experience. Syrian Christian value their contact with members of the established churches, but they have been surprised to learn that there is little knowledge of the history and rich traditions of the Oriental churches.

Some of the interviewees are wary of radical Islamic elements that come to Europe to create division between different layers of society, due to their experiences with sectarian violence in Syria. Nevertheless, overall Syrian Christian refugees highly value their new life in the Netherlands and most want to settle here permanently.