Syrian refugee crisis: ‘They shoot them all – in front of their mothers’

A Syrian refugee in Jordan describes why she fled from conflict in her home country

Fatina and her family left Syria after seeing men from her neighbourhood executed.

Fatina and her family left Syria after seeing men from her neighbourhood executed.



Abbotsford News editor Andrew Holota is reporting on the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan and Lebanon this week, with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB), one of the nation’s largest non-governmental aid organizations. It has been funding refugee relief in Jordan and Lebanon since the summer. CFGB is a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies, partnering with a number of NGOs in Jordan and Lebanon, assisting them with funding to deliver aid.

Abbotsford is an important donor community for CFGB, which receives 4-1 Canadian government funding and partners with other NGOs such as World Renew in Canada and around the world to deliver food aid.

“One day they were astonished when they saw the soldiers coming, and they asked for all the men to come out on the street … and they asked for the mothers to come and see what they are doing. They put them in a straight line and they shoot them all, in front of their mothers.”

Through an interpreter, Fatina stands in the backyard of a church in Irbid and stoically relates the inexplicable slaughter that, in June 2012, after many months of shelling and nearby fighting, compelled her and her family to make the intensely difficult decision to leave their home near Damascus in Syria and flee to Jordan.

The men in her family were away when the killings took place. They would not tempt fate again.

Fatina’s journey to becoming a refugee began two years ago. She lived with her husband, 27-year-old son and his wife, and two daughters, 21 and 13. Her husband worked in construction and her son made furniture. They were a middle-class family, living comfortable, happy lives.

The Syrian civil war brought a crushing end to that, as bombs and shells from government and rebel forces began tearing apart their community. Several exploded in front of her house, destroying two cars.

“There were so many injuries.”

They were planning her son’s wedding at the time, and they were afraid to keep the date. Yet, eventually they decided to proceed with the occasion nevertheless, more fearful that the couple “may die” before were married.

Two weeks later, as more bombs fell, the family had to flee the Damascus area. Waiting out the fighting was no longer an option.

They tried to stay at half a dozen different sites, but each time the war drove them on.

They collected some belongings and began a taxi journey to Jordan.

With some previous connections in the country allowing them legal entry, they were not ordered into one of several refugee camps like thousands of others. Friends sheltered them for three months until the displaced family rented an apartment in Irbid.

Syrian refugees are not allowed to work in Jordan, so families such as Fatina use whatever assets they have, along with some meagre under-the-table wages, to pay rent and buy whatever food they can afford. Usually, it is not enough. Meanwhile, rental rates are climbing as landlords exploit an opportunity to charge more for their apartments, which are in ever-increasing demand in areas near the Syrian border.

Fatina’s family applied for aid from international organizations, but waited in vain. Now, the food they receive from World Renew via funding from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is all the assistance they get.

(Fatina – at right – stands at the food registry to receive a box.)

Fatina comes to the church to collect one box of food items per month, including rice, cooking oil, pasta, beans, sardines and sardines.

She has organized someone who will take her and the 35-kg box of food back to her apartment. He doesn’t show up, however, and after many requests, Fatina finds a sympathetic cab driver willing to take her home for no charge.

The family will stay in Irbid as long as the civil war continues.

“There is nothing to return to. No furniture, no house, nothing.”

The situation inside Syria is even more grim, where aid is unavailable in many areas. Fatina’s eldest daughter and son stayed behind, and their parents have heard they’ve not seen bread since Ramadan – about four to five months ago.

World Renew, an aid organization run by the Christian Reformed Church, is assisting Fatina’s family, and 1,000 others – about 6,000 people in total – in cities near the Syrian border. Of those, approximately 15 per cent are poverty-stricken Jordanian citizens, to demonstrate that aid is available not only to Syrian refugees, of whom there are now an estimated 1.4 million in Jordan, a nation that numbered 6.5 million before the Syrian civil war.

 

 

 

(A man unloads boxes of food for Syrian refugees.)

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on the CFGB visit www.foodgrainsbank.ca

For more information on World Renew visit www.worldrenew.net

 

More in the series on the Syrian refugee crisis

A country overwhelmed

Christianity a motivating force behind aid effort

Life among the stones

Selling a child to feed a family

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Most Read