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For Syrian refugee family, arrival in Sweden 'like a miracle'

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 03:45

It's been more than two years since Zaki Khalil and his family left their hometown in war-torn Syria. They became part of Europe's unprecedented refugee migration but now have finally found a place to call home. Rough Cut-subtitled. (no reporter narration).

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DISPLAY (NO REPORTER NARRATION) After 14 grueling and dangerous days of travel, Syrian refugee Zaki Khalil, his wife Nagwa Muhammad and their four children have finally reached their new home in Nora, Sweden. But their voyage began long ago. The family left Qamishli, Syria in 2013 and tried to build a life for themselves in Turkey, which proved difficult without job opportunities, proper housing for Syrians or schools for the children. "Our suffering as been going on for more than two years," Khalil said. "No proper housing in Turkey, no sleep, no food, no proper education. All these years have been difficult for me and my children. I did it all for them." The next year Khalil left alone to settle in Sweden while his family remained in Turkey. In Sweden he applied for his family to join him, but the application was rejected. That is when Khalil and his family decided to make the trip on their own. As his wife and their children left Turkey, Khalil made his way south to the Greek port city of Piraeus. It was there on Oct. 21, 2015 that he reunited with his family. Like many before them during this summer's migrant and refugees crisis that consumed Europe, the family headed north through Greece, into Macedonia and later Berkasovo, Serbia. That's where they met harsh, cold and rainy weather that left paths soaked and muddy. Their priority was keeping their children, especially their 25-day-old daughter, Haiveen, warm. "As a human being the most difficult part is when you see your children cold and hungry and you can't make them feel warm. Maybe it is just a stage, maybe it will pass but it is very difficult for the fathers and for the mothers to see their children hungry, thirsty, or cold, and you can't do anything. Yesterday all night my children were shivering because of the cold and I didn't know what to do," Khalil said. From Serbia, they crossed into Croatia and Slovenia before arriving in Achleiten, Austria, joining hundreds of other migrants and refugees waiting to move ahead to Germany under the watchful eye of Austrian police. "I apologize to my children for tormenting them this way and making them go through this. But it's been two years they have not lived a happy moment. I hope they eventually forgive me," Khalil said. Upon arriving in Sweden, their hearts warmed at getting so far. "Well the problem is that after two years of suffering and bringing your children, you start thinking that this is impossible, this is so far away and you just never believe it's going to happen. So the impossible has happened. For me, it's like a miracle," Khalil said. During the journey Khalil said he imagined losing one or more of his children, but was blessed that they were all safe and together. "It's like a new beginning, a rebirth, it's like my wedding day with four kids on the same day," Khalil said. Early in the Syrian crisis, Sweden stepped out in front of other European countries to declare that all refugees from Syria would automatically be granted permanent residency, letting them work and making it easier for family members to join them. Polls show most Swedes still welcome refugees, and several charities have received record donations. But a growing minority worry the influx will hurt their cherished welfare state.

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For Syrian refugee family, arrival in Sweden 'like a miracle'

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 03:45