LONG ROAD HOME: A family starts fresh after a turbulent decade

abbynews0

عدد القراء 1752

It was supposed to be an unpleasant three-hour trip on a dirty, dilapidated boat. But 24 hours after leaving Syrian shores, the Alshayeb family had run out of food and drinking water, and were still somewhere in the Mediterranean sea, with no land in sight. Amer and Ibtihal, 

It was supposed to be an unpleasant three-hour trip on a dirty, dilapidated boat. But 24 hours after leaving Syrian shores, the Alshayeb family had run out of food and drinking water, and were still somewhere in the Mediterranean sea, with no land in sight. Amer and Ibtihal, a married couple in their late 20s, their infant daughter Zaneb and Amer's mother Najia would spend another two full days on that boat, with fellow passengers sick and dying around them. Ten years later, Amer sips strong Arabic coffee in a small house on a quiet and green Mt. Lehman property as he recounts those torturous days. Outside, chickens cluck about and the Alshayeb's four children race around on bikes. This idyllic setting for raising a family is a vast change from the daily bombings of a war zone, a boat ride from hell, and nearly a decade of languishing in wait for the opportunity to start anew. • • • • • The Alshayebs have been stateless people their entire lives. As the descendants of Palestinians who fled to Iraq in 1948, they have never held recognized passports. When militias sprung up in the years following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the family was in constant danger of arrest or worse, simply for being outsiders. In 2006, Amer, Ibtihal, Najia and baby Zaneb crossed into Syria using fake Iraqi passports. From there they hired illegal smugglers who promised safe passage to Cyprus on a mere three-hour boat ride. Soon after landing on a dark and empty Cyprus beach, Amer was separated from his family. He was arrested the next day. Three days later, he went before a judge who wanted to deport him back to Syria, a country where he had no roots and knew no one. He pleaded his case, telling the judge he could not be separated from his family. It would be another 10 days before he was released, in Cyprus. Amer then went looking for his wife, mother and child. He hadn't seen them in two weeks and had no idea where they were. With help from his sister, who has been living in Cyprus for six months, Amer found them in a refugee camp. The family secured an apartment and a monthly allowance from the government to get by. Ibtihal, who it turned out had been pregnant during the harrowing journey, soon gave birth to their second daughter, Asma. She was followed by another girl, Noor Alhuda, and a boy, Talal, over the next four years, as the family tried to establish some semblance of a normal life in...


Source: http://www.abbynews.com 

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