Today I’m on the Syrian border as part of my duty as a member of the Dáil Foreign Affairs Committee to consider the Syrian refugee crisis.
We visited an orphanage funded by Muslim Aid for children left orphaned by the war in Syria. We first met the pre-school group and then the older children when they came back from school. Heartbreaking to listen to the staff tell us the stories of the children living there. Some had seen parents blown up in front of them, some had seen bodies of fathers covered in torture wounds, one little lad had hidden in a tree after his parents were attacked and killed as they made their way along a road on their motor bike.
The positives are the children are well looked after, get lots of hugs, live in lovely centre and getting the psychological support they need. Also not forgetting their Syrian heritage – getting Syrian food. They sleep in rooms of 4 and each bed has its own cuddly toy.
We had a number of briefings on Goal’s work in Idlib province in Syria. The situation is very complex, very fluid and very unpredictable. Later we met a number of Syrian families who made the journey into Turkey – very disturbing to see how they are living. They left jobs and homes for safety. But they should not have to live as they do now. Reminder of how poorest tenant farmer lived in 19th century Ireland. But they smiled and welcomed us. A humbling experience for me.
In the photos; myself and Chairman of FA Committee Pat Breen with members of Goal at whose invitation we are in South East Turkey in relation to Syrian refugee situation. The last one is of myself, Pat Breen TD & Barry Andrews C.E.O. of Goal with the Governor of Hatay Province, Deputy Breen presented him with a gift. The Governor presented each of us with a local musical instrument, telling us it was difficult for people to learn how to play, so I don’t think you will be hearing a tune from me.