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Ex-Syria refugee elected as mayor in Germany

April 5, 2023 at 10:36 am

Ryyan Alshebl [rayyan.alshebl/Facebook]

A Syrian refugee has been elected as mayor of Ostelsheim, a town in the south-west of Germany with a population of roughly 2,500 people.

Ryyan Alshebl, 29, fled his hometown of Suwaida in Syria in 2015 and began a degree in finance and banking management but gave it up after the war started.

When he arrived in Germany, Ryyan started working in local administration in the town of Althengstett where he learnt German and English, reports I am Expat.

Ostelsheim has “become a symbol of tolerance and cosmopolitanism for the whole of Germany,” Ryyan said in his acceptance speech.

Ryyan is a member of the Green Party but stood as a non-party candidate.

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Hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers entered Germany during the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, most of them from Syria.

At the time, many other countries closed their doors and criticised former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy.

In 2022, Merkel won the Nansen Award for offering a home to over 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers fleeing the Syrian conflict.

The former Chancellor put in place mechanisms to integrate these refugees into society through education and training programmes and employment schemes.

Between 2015 and 2019 1.7 million people applied for asylum in Germany making it the country in the world with the fifth highest population of refugees.

At the time Merkel said she had put “our European values to the test as seldom before.”

More than 500,000 civilians have been killed during the Syrian conflict; 13 million have been displaced and 6.7 million forced to flee the country.