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The rare story of a Syrian family who came to Europe on a humanitarian visa
Text: Laura Hurtado / Oxfam Intermón
The story of this family is unusual. Most Syrian refugees who have made it to Europe have got there illegally and by taking perilous journeys. War in their homeland and Fortress Europe left them no other option.
But here is a different Syrian tale, which shows there are other ways to give sanctuary to those fleeing the war.
Za'atari is the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world. Photo: Tom White/PA
In 2013, Za’atari was Jordan’s fourth largest city, split into 12 districts. At the time it was home to about 156,000 people. Sounds like a normal city, right?
Za’atari is a refugee camp, established in July 2012, and home to a huge number of displaced Syrians. The camp grew so large it was recognised as one of the largest cities in Jordan.
Since the Syria Crisis began in 2011, just over 15,000 Syrians have moved to the US. Syrian families make the journey to the US, and other countries around the world, driven by the desire of safety, and giving their children a future with opportunity.
Below are four stories of families – brave families – who have journeyed to the US to start a new life with the help of the Syrian Community Network, a Chicago-based Oxfam ally.
Oxfam has joined a program to help Syrians find refuge in Europe. 60 people, including many families, will arrive in Italy today to seek asylum as part of a humanitarian visa programme approved by the Italian government. The people will be hosted by Oxfam in the Italian region of Tuscany for the duration of their asylum process.
Five international organisations working on the Syria crisis – Oxfam, CARE International, International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children - have called for more international action as world leaders met in Brussels at a conference to discuss the Syria crisis. Ministers, international organisations, and humanitarian workers discussed supporting Syrians inside the country and those who have crossed the border to become refugees.
Oxfam and three Syrian organisations called on the international community meeting in Brussels next week to recommit support to Syrians forced to flee, as more than five million Syrians -- or a quarter of the country’s pre-war population -- have crossed the border and registered as refugees in neighbouring countries since 2011.
Six years since the demonstrations that triggered the descent into a brutal civil war, millions of Syrians are bearing the brunt of increasingly restrictive policies around the world and inside Syria to stop them reaching safety, Oxfam warned today.
(by Dania Kareh and Eslam Mardini)
Hassan, 15, fills two jerry cans from a public well, and heads back home to his mother and sister in Aleppo. He will do the trip several times to fulfil their water needs. The young boy is one of an estimated 1.8 million people who were left without running water in Aleppo for nearly a month, as ISIS militants, in control of the main water source to the city, had reportedly shut down the water supply.
As peace talks commence today between the Syrian government and opposition groups in Astana, Kazakhstan, at least 700,000 people inside Syria – 300,000 of them children – are trapped in besieged areas without the most basic provisions to sustain their lives, according to the United Nations.
Andy Baker, Oxfam’s lead for the Syria Crisis Response, said:
"There is absolutely no excuse for the shocking attack yesterday on an aid convoy in rural Aleppo. The aid workers on the convoy were delivering much needed help to thousands of people and Oxfam is appalled and outraged that many of them lost their lives doing so.