Manitoba

'Everyone is suffering, we are worried about everyone': Syrian refugees react to U.S. airstrikes

A Syrian refugee family in Winnipeg is worried about their loved ones back home after the U.S. missile strikes in Syria, and fear the situation is only going to get worse.

New Winnipeggers worried for those back home

Maryam, 13, lives with her aunt, Safaa, in Winnipeg. The girl was 11 when her home was bombed in Idlib. She suffered burns to 80 per cent of her body and is due to have more surgery here. She is sad to learn of the latest military action in her home country, saying it will just mean more innocent people will die.

A Syrian refugee family in Winnipeg is worried about their loved ones back home after the U.S. missile strikes in Syria, and fear the situation is only going to get worse.

Safaa, who doesn't want her last name used out of concern for her relatives still in the war-torn country, said through a translator that she is against the U.S. taking military action in Syria, one of a number of countries taking a role in what she says are internal matters. 

"It's the Syrian people who have to make the decisions for their country, it shouldn't come from the outside," she said.

The recent chemical weapons attack in her home city of Idlib that left scores of people dead was horrifying, but Safaa said the conflict is far from over. The U.S. attack was in response to the chemical attack on Idlib. 
Safaa arrived in Winnipeg with her niece, Maryam and two nephews last March as government-sponsored refugees from Syria. She is grateful to be in Canada, but worried about relatives back home, after the U.S. attacked a Syrian airbase.

"Our tragedy didn't start yesterday, it's been there for years and years and it just keeps going and going, and it's getting worse," she said.

"It's not even about my family or my parents or my relatives, it's about my country. Everyone there is suffering, we are worried about everyone." 

Safaa arrived in Winnipeg with her niece and two nephews last March as government-sponsored refugees.

A Syrian refugee family in Winnipeg is worried about their loved ones back home after the U.S. missile strikes in Syria, and fear the situation is only going to get worse. 1:58

Home bombed, sister killed

Her niece Maryam suffered burns to 80 per cent of her body, after a bomb landed on her home in Idlib back in 2015.

Maryam was 11 years old at the time and remembers very little about what happened that day.

"I woke up in the hospital and I was screaming, I wanted my dad and my mom."

Maryam lost her six-year-old sister in the blast.

"In Syria I get in the bomb, like me and my sister, and my sister died," Maryam said.

Maryam has learned some basic English and is trying to move on with her new life in Winnipeg.

In Canada, friends and operations

"I have lots of friends now," she said.

But it's been a difficult adjustment because she misses her sister and her parents who were left behind in Syria.

"This has been hard, no mom, no dad, no grandparents, just me and my auntie," she said.
Maryam said she had an operation in Turkey and another in Canada, with more yet to come. Her 6-year-old sister was killed in the blast.

Maryam has had two surgeries on her arms since the bombings, one in Turkey and one in Canada, with more to come. 

She still wears bandages on her arms and she's nervous about having more operations, but she's just glad to be living in a safe country.

"I like it here in Canada, I like people, nice people in Canada." 

Safaa said she is trying to limit the amount of time her niece spends on their home computer watching news out of Syria, for fear she will be traumatized all over again.

Safaa, too, is grateful to Canadians for taking in refugees like herself. 

"I really appreciate what Canada has been doing for me, it's a wonderful place to be, and I want to say a big thank you to the government."