‘Ethiopia is my home’: Syrian chefs build new lives fuelled by shawarma

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Adna Mohammed moved to Ethiopia in 2013 and now owns a successful shawarma restaurant in Addis Ababa. Samuel Getachew

When Maetz Lebhar visited Ethiopia for a conference on dairy products in 2015, he did not expect to be calling the country his home within the space of a year.

Attracted by the market potential of products from his native Syria, including accessories to make shawarma, the 37 year old returned the following year hoping to find a local partner to help expand his business, perhaps in the form of opening a restaurant. It wasn’t long before the work trip turned into a permanent visit.

“I lost my extended family in the [Syrian] conflict and all our properties turned to ashes. I made Ethiopia my home as my circumstances changed in the blink of an eye”, he told The National.

“In Addis, I have been welcomed and I have managed to make my living selling the delicacies of my home.”

Mr Lebhar works as a chef in a local restaurant and earns ETB30, 000 a month (USD 950) close to the annual average wage of $985.

Ethiopia currently hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, at over one million refugees, mostly from Eritrea, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Now Syrians are joining their ranks, attracted by favourable asylum laws.

So far, more than one million Syrians have been displaced from their homeland by the nine-year conflict. They constitute a third of the world’s refugee population, with their numbers reaching 5.6 million by the end of last year, according to the UN.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. History bears witness that Dr. Teodros Adanhom Ghebreyesus’s political party the EPRDF had won majority of the votes at every governmenral elections in Ethiopia for close to three decades continuously until now, which is proof enough for everyone that Dr. Teodros Adanhom Ghebreyesus was and is still very well liked by almost all Ethiopians regardless what the few jealous Ethiopian people say about him , Dr. Teodros A. Ghebreyesus only left the Ethiopian politics for the time being because he knew he can contribute better to the world if he joined the W.H.O. ( World Health Organization ) , besides that he is confident he can run for the PM’s office of Ethiopia if he chooses to with EPRDF winning sweeping votes when he comes back to the Ethiopian politics,sooner or later the resilient EPRDF will be EPRDF once again just like before once Dr. Teodros A. Ghebreyesus returns back to the Ethiopian politics since he is tested by fire and percivered with his long time comrades such as the late World Class leader his Excellency the late PM of Ethiopia Dr. Meles Zenawi Asres who lifted most Ethiopians out of poverty in a very short period of time while bringing equality , justice , democracy and freedom to Ethiopia for the first time in the Ethiopian history. EPRDF has full authority to hold the election as scheduled in August 2020 if Dr. Teodros Adanhom Ghebreyesus chooses to return back to the Ethiopian politics by then that’s why new refugees in Ethiopia should not be discouraged because IN ETHIOPIA THE BEST IS YET TO COME actually the time is now to go #BIG IN ETHIOPIA with many natural resources starting to be freely available to work on.

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