Sunday, March 1, 2015

[Video] Syrian refugees begin new life in Scotland

[Originally posted at NOW, with video]

There aren’t many days one can share an uplifting or cheering video about Syrian refugees, but today is one of them, thanks to NOW’s very own (former) culture editor, Ellie Violet Bramley, who along with a colleague has produced this excellent video interview with a family of four from Damascus now living in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the Guardian.

Ayman and his wife and twin sons can’t have been easy to track down, being among just 50 (fifty) Syrian refugees to have been taken in by the UK to date – an amazingly embarrassing statistic, representing 0.0017% of all Syrian refugees.

Yet there they are, in what looks like a council house, living what could hardly be called a normal or ideal life, but one that’s at least comparatively safe. The children go to nursery, but are terrified by loud noises such as fireworks. Word of newly murdered relatives back home arrives regularly. Ayman has found a job (“I’m so happy to work and pay tax so I can be another man”) but still trembles when recalling the killings by regime snipers of his friends during the uprisings three years ago. He describes himself as “lucky,” but confesses he yearns to return to Damascus, where “I left my heart.”

My mother comes from Edinburgh, and I must have spent more school holidays there than anywhere else, so I find it strangely stirring to hear Ayman beginning to pick up the local accent (let’s hope he doesn’t also pick up Buckfast dependency, football hooliganism or any other such native customs). What a shame – for Britons as well as Syrians – that the opportunities for this kind of experience have been made so pitifully few by a closed-minded and cold-hearted British government policy.

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