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This Syrian Thinks Peter Dutton Can Find 12,000 Literate Syrian Refugees

His family included.

20/05/2016 4:42 PM AEST | Updated 18/08/2016 1:45 PM AEST
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Movses Injejikian as a lecturer's assistant at Damascus University.

Movses Injejikian tells his family most things.

The Syrian speaks to them every day on WhatsApp, as they wait in Lebanon hoping to be part of the 12,000 intake into Australia -- a place Injejikian now calls home.

But the 26-year-old decided against sending his family Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's comments on Wednesday, saying many refugees "won't be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English".

It would only destroy their hope. And hope is what keeps them going, said Injejikian. Because at the moment, in Lebanon "you feel that you can't find your future there".

And the future they hope to find involves reopened businesses, a home far from the constant threat of snipers and missiles, and also completed university degrees.

See Injiejikian's family are literate and numerate in their own language, and the majority in English. His five-year-old nephew knows three alphabets -- Armenian, Arabic and English -- and the family collectively hold an agricultural engineering degree, an english literature degree and a business degree. They almost have mechatronic engineering and electrical engineering degrees but the war brought Injejikian's two brothers' educations to a halt.

"In Lebanon there are no university loans, so they are working," Injejikian told The Huffington Post Australia.

The word "many" in Dutton's comments bothered the 26-year-old -- who has a pharmacy and pharmaceutical chemistry degree -- the most.

"When he mentioned the word 'many' in the beginning of his sentence, I felt that he is either not aware of Syria's level of education or he doesn't know the precise use of this phrase," Injejikian said.

"Being from a country where the literacy rate is over 86 percent and has more than 760,000 university students, I am definitely offended."

When the war broke out in Syria, the attacks on the city of Aleppo began almost a year later in February 2012. Half of the city, which Injejikian called home, was controlled by different rebels and terrorist groups including the Islamic State by July. Once missiles, rockets and mortars became part of everyday life, the family left, then came back, then left again.

"In the beginning you feel unsafe, so you stay in your house, but then you start feeling unsafe in your house and you want to keep living; that's why you go outside," Injejikian said.

It was a year-long back and forth fight for the life they built and wanted to keep. But eventually, after Injejikian's father's business was shot by snipers and then bombed in 2014, the entire family fled to Kessab -- a town declared safe.

The reality was far from it, and as the world celebrated a new year in 2015, the Injejikians vowed to flee to Lebanon and apply for the Australian refugee program. But they'd need a sponsor to enter Lebanon, and 200 US dollars per person to enter. It took 10 months.

At this point the war had destroyed Syria's economy, and the currency had dropped further, making the financial burden on a family of 12 trying to move even heavier. Just under 20,000 Syrian pounds will get you $100 in Australia.

As his family moved to Lebanon, the 26-year-old had already left to finish studying in Damascus and some may say hit the jackpot when he not only fell in love, but fell in love with an Australian girl. It wasn't long before they were engaged and it took a year before he could save enough to move down under on a prospective marriage visa in April 2015. It was worlds apart from war-torn Syria -- but more than 100 job applications away from employment.

Most applications for jobs from a waiter to cleaner hit silence, with one rejection email from Aldi to work in a supermarket. Then two call backs came, but no job eventuated. The 26-year-old, who worked as a medical rep in Damascus, starting applying to work as a volunteer in pharmacies once his degree was qualified in Australia, with one employer suggesting he could volunteers for a few hours on Sundays.

"It was like, 'don't come'," Injejikian said.

But the 26-year-old did, and after a few weeks he was told it was too busy. So he started applying again.

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Movses Injejikian (R) at West Ryde Chemmart Pharmacy, where he works as a pharmacy assistant helping dispensary assistant and Webstar packer.

Eventually after five weeks of unpaid volunteering at a pharmacy in West Ryde, Injejikian was hired as a pharmacy assistant and he'll be employed as a Pharmacist once he passes the International English Language Testing System. He's missed out by .5 of a mark, twice, but he's not letting that get in his way.

After 100 job applications and an unfinished battle for employment in his own field, the 26-year-old was left perplexed at Dutton's claim refugees "would be taking Australian jobs" or "languish in unemployment queues".

However Injejikian still counts himself fortunate: "I have friends who are pharmacists now in Sweden working as waiters".

The reality that "many" refugees had good lives filled with education, careers, families and close friendships is one that many Australians fail to understand, said the 26-year-old. A good life, just interrupted.

"These people weren't born refugees; they were very happy in their country, they didn't want to leave however this war forced them. And anyone who had children is leaving the country because there is no future for them," Injejikian told HuffPost Australia.

"My father suffers more than me because he lived his life to buy a house, to buy a home for his family, so it's really hard to forget all of those things.

"Even now he calls our neighbours to ask, 'Did you check the house?' So there is still a connection for him."

The 26-year-old told has told his family to wait a year for approval on their applications. He doesn't mind if police checks are delaying the process.

"I don't want anyone who is a terrorist to enter Australia, I don't want history to repeat itself," Injejikian said.

But what is easy, is finding 12,000 Syrian refugees who are educated, literate and numerate said the 26-year-old, as applicants for the Australian Refugee and Humanitarian Program must state their level of education.

This application for a better future isn't the first the Injejikian family has submitted. As Armenians, the family fled to Syria during the genocide 100 years ago. They hope Australia will welcome them like the Syrians did.

And as long as they can hold onto that hope, they'll keep going.

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