The daughter of Zahraa Abdi, 47, who fled her native Somalia in 2012 with her three children, stands behind a curtain inside a shared apartment in the Barzeh district of the Syrian capital Damascus, on August 12, 2017.AFP / Youssef KARWASHAN
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Millions of Syrians have fled their country's war as refugees, but for tens of thousands of people escaping conflict elsewhere, Syria is also a place of refuge. Among them is Zahraa Abdi, who fled her native Somalia in 2012 and lives in a small room with her three children in northern Damascus.The U.N.'s refugee agency UNHCR estimates some 55,000 refugees from war-torn countries in the Middle East and beyond are living in Syria, which has been ravaged by conflict since March 2011 .The largest refugee contingent is made up of around 31,000 Iraqis who crossed the border into Syria to flee Iraq's many years of violence.However, the U.N. also counts some 1,500 Afghan refugees and 1,500 more from Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.While Abdi moved to Syria in the early part of the conflict, most refugees sought safety in the country long before it was consumed by war.Twelve years later, South Sudan announced its independence and he found himself the citizen of a new country, but one Syria's government does not recognize.
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