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A Syrian Refugee's Story

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In this short film, Welcome to Canada, learn about a Syrian refugee’s story, Mohammed Alsaleh, who fled violence and imprisonment by the Assad regime during Syria’s Civil War. Mohammed was granted asylum and now lives in Canada where he counsels newly arrived Syrian refugee families. In this lesson, explore the themes of resilience, human rights, and cultural displacement.

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Since the Civil War in Syria began in 2011, millions of refugees have been fleeing violence and searching for new homes in other countries. As of March 2016, an estimated 11 million Syrians have been forced from their homes, and 4.5 million—half of Syria's population—have fled the country.* More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives, 13,000 of them children.**
António Guterres, who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005-2015, has declared the situation, "the great tragedy of this century - a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history. The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighboring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees."


According to the UN Refugee Agency, the European Union welcomed nearly a million Syrian refugees in 2015.*** The United States committed to welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. According to the State Department, 78 percent of those refugees were women and children.****


Mohammed is currently building a new life, striving to bring his family to safety from Turkey. The ISSofBC is a non-profit organization which serves the settlement and integration for newcomers coming into Canada globally. The organization is the same Vancouver-based NGO that aided Mohammed during his own resettlement process. Between November 4, 2015, and October 23, 2016, Canada's government welcomed 33,239 Syrian refugees, and the number continues to grow.*****
Access the Global Oneness Project's lesson plan with additional questions and writing prompts as well as connections to National Standards.


Resources
Syria: The story of the conflict." BBC, March 11, 2016.
Syria's horrifying statistics." BBC, February 12, 2016.
EUROPE: Syrian Asylum Applications." UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, October 2016.
Most Syrian refugees coming to U.S. are women, children." USA Today, August 9, 2016.
#WelcomeRefugees: Key figures." Government of Canada.

(Organization Website) Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (ISSofBC).

Melissa Fleming, "Six reasons why Syrians are fleeing to Europe in increasing numbers." The Guardian, October 25, 2015.


Camila Domonoske, "A Wounded Child In Aleppo, Silent And Still, Shocks The World." NPR, August 18, 2016.


"Teaching with the News: The Conflict in Syria." Brown University: The Choices Program.


"Updated: Your Cheat Sheet to the Syrian Conflict." PBS Newshour, September 2, 2013.


Jodi Kantor and Catrin Einhorn, "What Does It Mean to Help One Family?" The New York Times, October 22, 2016.


Natalie Alcoba, "'You Are Home:' Justin Trudeau Welcomes Syrian Refugees to Canada." Vice News, December 11, 2015.






Syria is a country that has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011, when the government responded violently to citizens who had taken to the streets to oppose the oppressive Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad. To date, refugees have been fleeing Syria in unprecedented numbers. Images and stories of refugees have flooded the media, which has helped to inform the world about the struggles taking place both within Syria and during refugees' search for freedom and safety outside the country.
An individual's story, like Mohammed's, told visually through a film, can help to comprehend larger issues, like war, by making it more accessible. By listening and reflecting upon one man's story, there is an opportunity to empathize and understand the refugee crisis in a humanizing way. 



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