Skip to main content
"You only appreciate what you have when it is lost"

"You only appreciate what you have when it is lost"

Ethiopia is one of the nations that hosts one of the largest populations of refugees from neighboring troubled country's such as South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. However, in recent years, Syrian refugees have flooded the nation looking for safety that is no longer a possibility at home.  

Throughout the country, it is believed hundreds of Syrian refugees have ventured in cities and villages as well as in the capital -  most are openly  seen begging for money among local beggars and some are managing to open businesses such as shawarma restaurants introducing the delicacy of the Middle-East. 

“I still have no idea how I ended up in Ethiopia and I was not even able to place the country on the map a few years ago”, Abdul Abelarada told Detail Ethiopia as he begged not far from the busy Edna Mall in Bole. “While it became impossible to stay in Syria and forced to come here, a very foreign nation with little safety nets, it breaks my heart I am now forced to beg".

"Most Ethiopians have been generous to me and my family, but again, begging is not what I had in mind at my young age where I am supposed to be self-sufficient”, the 34 year old added.

Ethiopia is not stranger to such generosity in hosting unique refugees as it did with Armenian refugees during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. The enriched the nation bringing architectural designs, musical arrangement to the country, as well as contributed in areas of medicine and texture. Today, Vahe Tilibain, an Ethiopian – Armenian that recently teamed up with Zeritu Kebede for an Armenian-Ethiopian musical collaboration is one of Ethiopia’s famous artists.


A Syrian begging In Merkato with his children
A Syrian begging In Merkato with his children 

Another such refugee selling tissue paper at a traffic light in Merkato Market said, life is difficult in Ethiopia for Syrians. However, he feels safe and at home and dreams of opening a shawarma restaurant, if he cannot find employment as a construction engineer in Ethiopia. 

“Ethiopians are the kindest people and they are generous and offer you all the help you need as well as the security. What has been difficult for me is to connect with local companies that can help me gain employment and bring what I have learned at home, with experience and a construction graduate degree to boot, and work in Addis Ababa.  That has been the most difficult task for me and others to accomplish ”, he reflected refusing to give his name.  

On the recent conflict in his adopted nation, he seems taken back with what is happening. 

"You only appreciate what you have when it is lost", he said, adding, how Ethiopia should certainly should not go the route of Syria, a once stable nation that afforded Ethiopians with educational opportunities transitioned now as one of the world's unstable and broken nations.