Forced to flee: Living and working in exile

    Business Spotlight 8/2022
    : Graffiti/shadow on a brickwall showing a refugee girl walking with her suitcase
    © linephoto/
    Von Melita Cameron-Wood

    It’s a record that should never have been set,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)Hoher Flüchtlingskommissar der Vereinten NationenUN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi. He was commenting on the news that over 100 million people around the world have now been forcibly to displace sb.jmdn. vertreibendisplaced because of war, persecutionVerfolgungpersecution or natural disasterNaturkatastrophenatural disasters.

    Having to to flee one’s homeaus seiner Heimat fliehenflee your home is a traumatic experience that can leave emotional (and physical) scarNarbescars. Then, having escaped immediate danger, refugees to face sth.etw. gegenüberstehenface linguistic, psychological and bureaucratic challenges to start a new life in an unfamiliar place. Business Spotlight spoke with six displaced people who shared their experiences of working or looking for work in their host countryGastlandhost countries.

    Zmicier Mickiewicz

    Zmicier Mickiewicz working for Belsat

    Mickiewicz: presenting for Belsat TV

    Nationality: BelarusianbelarussischBelarusian

    Profession: journalist (at Belsat TV)

    Current location: Poland

    Zmicier Mickiewicz was on the balcony of a Minsk apartment, presenting a livestream of street protests for Belsat TV, when two policemen tried to break the door down. “The policemen broke the spyhole (UK)Türspionspyhole in the door and started letting gas into the apartment through a tubeSchlauch, Rohrtube,” Mickiewicz says. “They ended up gassing themselves by mistake. When they moved away from the door, we were able to escape.”

    A few weeks later, Mickiewicz found himself in prison, as he’d been seen on CCTV footageAufnahmen einer ÜberwachungskameraCCTV footage in the building. “A thousand people were arrested in connection with that protest in Minsk, 25 of whom were journalists,” Mickiewicz says. “From our team, they only got me. I told them I didn’t know anyone and that I was a freelancerfreie(r) Mitarbeiter(in), Freiberufler(in)freelancer. I was supposed to spend at least 30 days in prison, but there were a lot of people, and they forgot about me and let me out with just a fineGeldstrafefine after one day in prison.”

    After this, Mickiewicz fled Belarus and moved to Poland, where his family was already living. Two of Mickiewicz’s colleagues, Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, weren’t so lucky. They were sent to prison in 2021 for reporting on another protest in Minsk.

    Belsat TV is based in WarsawWarschauWarsaw and the company’s content is mostly user-generated. “The main journalists at the moment are the people,” Mickiewicz says. “If Telegram is used in the right way, you can avoid being to track sb. downjmdn. aufspürentracked down. When I see how journalists work in the West — how they can get any information they want and go where they want — I compare it to Belarus. In Belarus, we’ve never had such a situation. All the time, Belsat TV was to ban sth.etw. verbietenbanned. We weren’t given accessZugangaccess to any state events, so we had to invent ways to get this information.”

    Thanks to daily messages from people in Belarus, Belsat TV continues working from Poland despite the oppressionUnterdrückungoppression that many of its employees have experienced.

    Nina Klymenko

    Nina Klymenko in Kiev

    Nationality: Ukrainian

    Profession: UX (user experience)NutzererlebnisUX designer

    Current location: Germany

    Originally from Kharkiv, Nina Klymenko moved to Kiev two months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Two weeks before it actually happened, I spoke to my parents about what we would do if a war broke out. My parents told me they wouldn’t go anywhere, but my husband and I decided we would leave.” On the morning of 24 February, Klymenko and her husband packed their car and began travelling west with two friends. They’re now living with a host familyGastfamiliehost family in Germany.

    As Klymenko to work remotelyim Homeoffice arbeitenworks remotely as head of design for a US company called Reach Platform, her job is secure. “My company has been very understanding. They told me I could take my time and come back to work when I was ready. I’m already back to my normal working hours, but my productivity isn’t even half of what it normally would be, because it’s so difficult to focus. We’re under crazy psychological pressure at the moment.”

    Klymenko was worried that Ukraine’s banking system might collapse, leaving her without money. “I spoke to the accountsBuchhaltungaccounts team at work and asked if the company could pay the depositKautiondeposit for a ttenancy agreementMietvertragenancy agreement on my on sb.’s behalfin jmds. Namenbehalf, by taking the amount out of my salary. I wanted to give the landlordVermieterlandlord more confidence by demonstrating that I have a company behind me.”

    Not everyone can continue doing the same job when they move, however.
    “I have a lot of friends who work in marketing for local Ukrainian markets. Without knowing the local language, that type of marketing is impossible. It’s more challenging for them. And it’s not just about the language — you need to have grown up in a certain culture to understand its nuancesFeinheitennuances.”

    Doaa Al Zamel

    Doaa Al Zamel

    Nationality: Syrian

    Profession: teaching assistant

    Current location: Sweden

    Doaa Al Zamel and her family fled the city of Daraa, Syria, when she was 16. The family spent a few years in Egypt, but living conditions were poor, and Al Zamel and her fiancéVerlobterfiancé, Bassem, decided to cross the the Mediterraneandas MittelmeerMediterranean in search of a brighter future.

    Their crossing was to end in catastrophe: the vesselSchiffvessel that the couple was on was to ram sth.etw. rammenrammed by another boat, and most of the passengers to drownertrinkendrowned — including Bassem. Al Zamel was one of the few survivors and was praised for saving the life of an 18-month-old baby, one of the two children that dying passengers had asked her to look after. Melissa Fleming, chief spokespersonChefsprecher(in); hier: Leiter(in) der Hauptabteilung für Globale Kommunikationchief spokesperson for UNHCR, documented Doaa’s journey in the novel A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s incredibleunglaublichIncredible Story of Love, Loss and Survival.

    With support from UNHCR, Al Zamel moved to Sweden with some of her family, but it was impossible to to reunite (people)(Leute) wieder zusammenbringenreunite her whole family. “At first, it was difficult, but we were able to learn the Swedish language,” she says. “While we have to adjustsich anpassenadjusted, some things are hard, such as the very cold weather and changing the views that some people have about refugees.”

    Al Zamel says it’s been a tough but positive experience. “I’ve expanded my knowledge and met some nice Swedish people. I now work as a teaching assistant at a Swedish middle school.”

    In the future, Al Zamel hopes to have a career in fashion. “I’d like to create my own clothing designs and to sew sth.etw. nähensew them. I’d also like to learn English and continue travelling, talking about my experience and the journey I had. It’s very important to present the stories of refugeeFlüchtlingrefugees so that Europeans can understand the extent of the suffering.”

    Looking for a home

    According to the UN, more than 100 million people worldwide have been forcibly to displace sb.jmdn. vertreibendisplaced. This includes refugeeFlüchtlingrefugees and asylum seekerAsylsuchende(r)asylum seekers, as well as nearly 60 million internally displaced people (IDPs) — people who are refugees inside their own countries. The number of displaced persons has risen dramatically in the past two years: it was about 82 million in 2020. Today, the total number of displaced persons is almost equal to the number of people living in the 14th most populousbevölkerungsreichpopulous country in the world.

    Bushra Seddique

    Nationality: Afghan

    Profession: journalist (looking for work)

    Current location: US

    As a female journalist in Kabul, Bushra Seddique was at great risk when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021. “I decided to use all of my networks and organizations to help me leave the country. It wasn’t important which country I went to — what was important was leaving.”

    With the help of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Community to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Seddique travelled to the US after stops at US military bases in Qatar and Germany, and a refugee camp in Indiana.

    Now, Seddique is living with her sister in temporary housing while they wait for the completion of their resettlement process(Wieder-)Eingliederungsverfahrenresettlement process. She’s still looking for work, but her hopes remain high. “There is a lot of work in Maryland, and there are good universities. I’m looking for jobs in Persian and English that will improve my skills. I’m open to any kind of work — as a journalist, an interpreterDolmetscher(in)interpreter or an internPraktikant(in)intern.”

    Seddique is focusing on English, as this is essential for her job search. “I speak more English and less Persian now. I have American friends, and I use English to write emails and complete application formAntragsformular, Bewerbungsbogenapplication forms. I’ve become much more to be fluent (in a language)(eine Sprache) fließend sprechenfluent. When I read, I sometimes find words that I don’t understand. I try to work out their meaning by to scan sth.etw. überfliegenscanning the text. These days, I’m focusing on newspapers because I want to learn the American style of writing. Reading and writing, especially in an academic way, is hard for me, but communicating is easy.”

    Yaroslava Sydorenko & Olga Karpovych

    Yaroslava Lovushkina

    Olga Karpovych

    Nationality: Ukrainian

    Profession: English teachers and Ukrainian/English translators (currently out of work)

    Current location: Munich, Germany

    At just 25 and 23, Yaroslava Sydorenko and Olga Karpovych, were still at an early stage of their careers when the Russian invasion of Ukraine turned their lives etw. auf den Kopf stellen, grundlegend verändernupside down. Having seinen Abschluss machengraduated just three years ago after completing two Master’s degrees, Sydorenko was working as an English teacher in the pair’s hometown, Kropyvnytskyi, in central Ukraine, before she fled to Germany with her friend Karpovych. Two years younger than Sydorenko, Karpovych graduated just a few months ago and was working as an English tutor before the war began.

    The two women arrived in Munich after etw. durchquerentraversing Eastern Europe by train. They are now living with a host family they found on social media, but despite their desire to work, they have been experiencing difficulties, as their qualifications may not be accepted in Germany. “If our diplomas are not recognized here, then we will have to start our studies from the very beginning again. We are mit etw. zögerlich seinhesitant about what to do next because we are hoping we will get the documents we need, but we are not sure if we will,” Karpovych comments. Sydorenko would like to work with children in a kindergarten, as she used to work at a Grundschuleprimary school in Ukraine and Karpovych is interested in working in the tourism sector, but these dreams remain Bestreben, (sehnlicher) Wunschaspirations for the time being, as they are still completing the necessary bureaucracy. “We are willing to do any kind of job,” Sydorenko says. “We want to be useful here, rather than just sitting and waiting.” Jobs would not only provide the pair with the financial means to be able to rent a flat of their own, but would also give them a welcome Ablenkungdistraction from the daily horrors that are happening in their home country. “We really miss home. I got married seven months ago, and my husband is still in Ukraine, protecting our town. It’s really hard being here, knowing that he is there.” By quickening and simplifying the Papier-, Behördenkramred tape that stands between Flüchtlingrefugees and jobs, Germany could make the process considerably less stressful for those escaping the war in Ukraine.

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