Nova Scotia

Refugee journalists rely on Skype to cover Syrian war from N.S.

A pair of journalist Syrian sisters, who left the Middle East as refugees, are continuing to cover Syrian news from their new home in Nova Scotia.

Raja and Safa Salim write Arabic stories for a Syrian news website from Canada

Refugees Raja and Safa Salim write and edit stories in Arabic and post photos and videos online. Although they typically cover military stories, they are beginning to cover social issues and economics, as well. (CBC)

A pair of Syrian sisters, who left the Middle East as refugees, are continuing to work as journalists and covering Syrian news from their new home in Nova Scotia.

Raja Salim, 32, left Syria for Lebanon four years ago, and worked on film documentaries about Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. She said the situation in Lebanon became dangerous for her because she didn't have legal residency there, and would have no protection from the courts if anything happened to her. She fled to Turkey in 2014, where she was joined by her sister, Safa.

Safa, 30, launched her own journalism career in Turkey, working in news and as a photo editor.

The situation for journalists in Turkey at that time was "really terrible," Raja said.

"Many young journalists were killed there and it was terrible because the Turkish government — they didn't do anything for that."

N.S. was best solution

When the opportunity to move to Nova Scotia as privately sponsored refugees arose, the sisters jumped at the chance. They arrived about a month ago.

"We were very happy to apply. We were very ready. Because [there were] no other options," the sisters said in an interview with CBC's Information Morning. "It was the best solution."

Both Raja and Safa Salim continue to cover Syrian news from Nova Scotia, contributing to a Syrian news website called Smart News Agency.

Difficult to be neutral

The sisters said they connect with reporters on the ground in Syria using the web-based calling service, Skype. They write and edit stories in Arabic and post photos and videos.

Although they typically cover military stories, the sisters said they are beginning to cover social issues and economics, as well.

Covering the war in Syria is particular challenge for refugees, the sisters said.

"Usually you have to be neutral if you want to cover the problems — wars, many issues. You don't have to be really involved. But in our case we're trying to do that, but it's not easy always."

The sisters said they hope to return to Syria when the war ends.

"For sure. Our family is still there, our life, memories, people, sure we'll go back."

Two Syrian journalists and sisters, left Turkey out of fear for their own safety. Raja and Safa Salim share what it's like to work in Nova Scotia. 7:10

With files from Information Morning