March 11 2015: Joy as Syrian family are reunited to start new life

The Evening Times, March 11 2015

A family torn apart by war in Syria are starting a new life after being reunited in Glasgow.

Mona Hussain’s husband and four children feared they would never see each other again after being split up when their lives were turned upside down by the conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

As the Evening Times reported in November, Mona, 34, fled the country and arrived in Glasgow nine months ago.

She was granted leave to remain by the Home Office – but her husband Mahmoud Alhamdu, 43, became stuck in Greece with their children because they had no passports. They were left with no home, no jobs and without any belongings due to the trouble in their hometown – around an hour from the Syrian city of Aleppo.

I’m so grateful to the Evening Times along with the Red Cross They lived in fear of their lives amid the terror of the civil war and the rise of the Islamic State (IS).

After we highlighted their story, Mona was told her family could travel over from Greece and join her in Glasgow.

She was helped by the Red Cross, the Uniting Nations in Scotland (UNIS) group and the Scottish Refugee Council.

They had an emotional reunion at Glasgow Airport shortly before Christmas and, although they have no permanent home, they are settling into life here.

Mona said: “The country here helped me so much. The system has helped me to bring my family here.

“I’m so grateful to the Evening Times along with the Red Cross, the Refugee Council and UNIS.

“I’m so very happy. Now my children can go to school again. They were unsafe and in danger but here we feel safe. We’re happy here.”

Mona’s children Mutamid Billah, 13, and Baraa Alhamdu, 14, are at school, while Mohammed Amin, 16, and Elias, 17, are at college learning English.

Mona is also learning English and they want to work as soon as it is possible.

She said: “I used to just cry every day. Now, my sons and daughters they can do things here, they can enter into the social life here, they can build their lives here.

“It was so bad in Greece for them.

“There was no work, no jobs, no life, no water and no housing. There is no one to care for refugees there.”

Mona and her family regularly visit the UNIS support group where they meet with other people forced to flee their home countries to be safe.

Joe Brady, Head of Refugee Integration Services at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Families often become separated when fleeing dangerous situations in their home countries, or during the perilous journey many have to undertake to reach a place of safety.

“This separation can compound what is already a stressful and unsure situation and it can often take time for families to be reunited in one country.

“When that happens, families often need support to rebuild their lives together and to integrate into their host country.

“The Third Country National service, run in partnership by Scottish Refugee Council, British Red Cross and Workers’ Educational Association Scotland, is a holistic service that helps families to figure out where they will live, how they can support themselves and how they can engage in education and with local communities.

“With our support, families like Mona’s, who have been through a huge amount of difficulty, have the chance to build a positive future here in Scotland together.”

We also told of the heartache of Marwa Kassab, who had to leave her three-year-old son Yahya with family members to try and find safety away from Aleppo, Syria.

Her son was injured in a bomb blast and is also suffering from an infection caused by a chemical being put into the water supply.

Marwa, 26, hoped to be reunited with him, however, she said she had been refused leave to remain. Refugees have to be told they can stay before the reunion can happen.

A Home Office spokesman said: “This is an outstanding case and it would be inappropriate to comment.”

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