Better life sought for children

Former Syrian refugees Narjes (8) and Ayat (10) Jamal dressed up for a welcoming ceremony for new settlers at the Dunedin Centre yesterday. Photos: Peter McIntosh
Former Syrian refugees Narjes (8) and Ayat (10) Jamal dressed up for a welcoming ceremony for new settlers at the Dunedin Centre yesterday. Photos: Peter McIntosh
The flight from war ravaged Syria to the stability of Dunedin may have meant some big changes for former refugees welcomed to the city, but for their children it should mean a secure future.

About 40 Syrians were welcomed to the city in a civic ceremony at the Dunedin Centre yesterday.

The girls' father, Jamal Ibrahim.
The girls' father, Jamal Ibrahim.
They heard from Mayor Dave Cull they were joining about 500 former refugees from the Middle East.

Mr Cull said they were welcome in the city, which would benefit from the diversity of traditions they brought.

''I know that you will find a welcoming home in Dunedin.''

A spokesman for the families told the ceremony they would work to be ''the best people to represent this community''.

One of the former refugees, Jamal Ibrahim, said through an interpreter he fled the war in Syria to Lebanon, where ''they did not treat us well''.

After dealing with the United Nations and then New Zealand immigration, he and his family got the opportunity to come to this country.

The situation in Syria and the whole Arab world was ''not that good'', and he wanted a better life for his children, a generation disadvantaged by the conflict.

After arriving in Dunedin four months ago, he said it was ''a beautiful life'' in New Zealand.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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