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Thursday, 09 November 2017

Actor backs UK refugee resettlement scheme after seeing Syrian plight firsthand

Written by Ellie Cullen

Actor David Morrissey says the Syrian refugee resettlement programme "provides a lifeline" for people to rebuild their lives.

The star, who is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), visited Lebanon, host to more then one million displaced Syrians, to see firsthand how the process of resettlement can change the lives of the most vulnerable refugees.

The Missing actor followed the progress of a Syrian family from deprived conditions in Lebanon to safety in Britain.

He said: "I met a young couple called Maha and Talal and their little two-year-old son.

"They fled Syria five years ago because the conflict there was getting more and more dangerous. When I asked them about their home back in Homs (Syria's third largest city), they had horrendous stories about the bombing. There is no home for them anymore, it's just rubble. So there is no place for them to go back to."

Talal and Maha had moved into a condemned building in Beirut, rebuilding the windows and doors so that their home was no longer exposed to the elements before the couple's baby arrived.

But employment was hard to come by and the couple struggled to pay rent after five years in Lebanon.

Talal and Maha were identified for resettlement by the UNHCR as an especially vulnerable family and were selected to come to the UK.

A few months after meeting them in the Middle East, Morrissey visited their new home in north west London, where they are focusing on learning English and their son Hisham is in nursery.

Talal, who worked as a carpenter in Syria, is now eager to put his skills to use in Britain.

He said: "I love my work a lot. In Lebanon it was hard to give 100% but here I want to do that. I want to work. I want to learn the language and contribute something."

Morrissey (pictured) said: "I was really encouraged to be meeting them again, seeing how committed they are to settling in. They want to really take on everything here in the UK, learn the language and be part of society.

"We've all seen on TV the devastation in Syria where these families have come from, and I've witnessed how harsh life can be for refugees in Lebanon.

"Through resettlement, UNHCR provides a lifeline for people to rebuild their lives. And here they are trying to rebuild their lives full of hope and encouragement."

The UNHCR estimates that close to 1.2 million refugees will need resettlement in the coming year.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Paul Wu / UNHCR / PA Wire.