Passed Halfway Mark
January 05, 2017
As of November 2016, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 6.1 million people have been permanently displaced by the violence in Syria. This makes Syria the largest displacement crisis internationally. About 4.8 million of these people have fled the country. The United States is one of the 32 countries that have agreed to accept referrals from UNOCHA.
August 2016, the United States accepted its 10,000th Syrian refugee. Here at the Arab American Community Center of Florida, we help refugees like Fatima, become strong, healthy, engaged and integrated citizens of the United States.
Fatima’s story begins in war-torn Syria. In Syria, her 7 year old son lived in constant fear of air strikes. After living in the middle of a civil war, Fatima, her husband and three children moved to Lebanon to attempt to escape the violence of Syria. The family left Lebanon because refugees were not allowed to obtain legal documents. Without legal documentation, the children could not be enrolled in school nor could the parents find work.
Hoping for better luck in Turkey, the family relocated once again. Life was a bit better in Turkey because the children were able to go to school. However, the family still struggled to earn a living because the parents could not obtain legal documents that allowed them to work in Turkey. The youngest child in the family fell victim to illegal child laborers who took advantage of him due to the parent’s legal status.
Fearing for their family, Fatima and her husband petitioned the United Nations for help relocating to the United States. This petition was granted and the family moved to Orlando, Florida. Once in Orlando, the family was referred to AACC for help. AACC has helped the family enroll all three of their children in school, obtain health insurance, English classes and the purchase of a car.
Fatima dreams of returning to her home in Syria. However, she knows that this dream may never come true due to the current war. For now, Fatima is content to live in Orlando where all of her children can attend school and she and her family can live in peace.