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Syria's Expatriates and Compulsory Service

Updated on December 1, 2019

Like the lines drawn by the convict on the walls of a cell, to calculate the time left for him, many Young Syrians draw lines on open walls, counting the number of years they have spent abroad, and the value of the money they have raised. Waiting for them to meet the terms of payment of the cash allowance, which enables them to return to the country without the obsession of 'compulsory service'

Hamouda works at a popular café in Khartoum, most of whose clients are from Syria who play hard (paper) and chess. He has been working 14 hours a day since his parents took him out of school at the age of 14, before his family moved to Sudan at the age of 16. The young man cannot return to Syria today, because of the obsession with compulsory service, and at the same time does not have enough to pay the required cash allowance. "After we fled Ghouta, we came to Sudan. After the war in Ghouta stopped, my father was able to renovate the house, my mother and my brothers returned, and my older brother and I stayed, because they were in conscription age.

The Sudanese capital is a remarkable gathering of Syrians, thanks to their visa-free reception and promise to visit, not refugees. Young recruiters make up a good segment of Syrians in Sudan, and many are considering returning home as soon as they can pay the cash allowance to exempt them from recruitment. However, raising the amount is not easy, given the low level of allowance. He keeps thinking about his future. He was the one who did not receive an academic education, only to study high school, to settle in the family shop, to install and sell perfumes in a market in Aleppo. From the early days of the war, the young man went to Khartoum, starting his own business with his father's partner. "First of all, living was cheap here. Although their cost has risen today, the situation is acceptable. Anyone can manage if they find a job." The young man says that his relatives are able to help him pay the required amount, but he prefers to rely on himself, although this means more years of exile, especially since the "value of the allowance is great".

The Viking Country is Not

Years ago, Raif (not his real name) fled Qamishli for Turkey, then left to end up in Sweden. The young man learned Swedish quickly and was able to "reunite" his family. He works today and gets a good salary. But all of the above was not enough for the young man, as long as he was unable to return home, even as a visit. "Life in Sweden is very beautiful, and the one here gets a good salary for his work, unlike the reality in Syria", the young man says. "The only limitation is the inability to see my family and friends, life in Sweden is boring for us Syrians. There is no social life, the streets are closed at 6:00, and then everyone surrenders home, except on one or two days of the week, there is a party or some effective, and we can breathe through it". Thanks to the good living conditions in Viking country, Raif managed to raise the required amount. Today, he is waiting for the right moment to make the payment, after he has reviewed the Syrian Consulate, and completed his "settlement" transactions.

No Cuts in the Foreseeable Future

A while ago, i walked a lot of arguments about a planned reduction of the "external allowance", from $8,000 to $4,000. In addition to rumors of a study to approve an "internal allowance", those who do not wish to join the conscription can pay it off, even if they are residing inside Syria. Maj. Gen. Faisal Khoury, chairman of the National Security Committee of the People's Assembly, told Al-Akhbar that the committee he chairs has been tasked for years with a study on the monetary allowance, both internal and external. The study showed that "the internal allowance is rejected, because it is contrary to the Syrian constitution", according to Khoury. While I suggested that young people living outside Syria be grouped into segments, the amount of the allowance to be paid varies from one segment to another $6,000 for residents for study, and $8,000 for residents for work. And 10,000 of those who have been late in proving their residency abroad, while those who have left illegally are subject to judicial trial". Khoury confirms that "the figures mentioned are still under study", and explains that all of the above are just suggestions. "There is no decision in the foreseeable future, the situation is the same, at current value, and if new decisions are made, people will know about it", he says. This is subject to many overlapping considerations".

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Hafiz Muhamamd Adnan

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