Syrian refugees in Saskatoon fear for family still living in Aleppo

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Syrian refugees in Saskatoon fear for family still living in Aleppo
WATCH: Intisar Dagheli and her family of Syrian refugees living in Saskatoon say family left behind in Aleppo cannot leave. Ryan Kessler reports – Dec 21, 2016

When Intisar Dagheli fled Syria with her husband Jihad Mohamad, they didn’t have time to bring any pictures of the loved ones they left behind.

As Syrian rebels once again evacuated the war-torn city Wednesday, it was those family members they feared for.

“I’m very sad about everyone now leaving Aleppo,” Dagheli said.

READ MORE: Aleppo evacuations resume as Syrian government regains control of city

Her father, his wife and three siblings cannot leave the city that has seen brutal fighting between rebels and the regime of President Bashar Assad since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Images of people fleeing east Aleppo in buses have refocused international attention on the Syrian humanitarian crisis.

But Mohamad takes little comfort in seeing people leaving their homes.

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“They invested in their houses a lot and their houses [are] just destroyed and they don’t have a home or shelter, so where is the hope here?” Mohamad said through an interpreter.

Since arriving in Saskatoon in February, the couple has had to explain to their three elementary school-aged children the horrors witnessed on television news.

Their 11-year-old son asked his father if they would ever return to Aleppo.

“God willing. We can’t do anything about it so far. So just hope that we will go back one day,” was Mohamad’s response, according to the interpreter.

READ MORE: Bana Alabed, Syrian girl with viral Twitter account, safely evacuated from Aleppo

The boy’s uncle, Ismat Mohamad, arrived in Saskatoon three weeks ago.

The family asked that people in Canada do what they can to help Syrians and to keep the country in their thoughts.

Learning English and finding suitable housing are among the biggest challenges for refugees, according to Ashfaque Ahmed, manager of settlement and family support services at the Saskatoon Open Door Society.

But emotional trauma is also a common and serious issue.

“We provide some counseling,” Ashfaque said. “We have resources where we provide them the referrals to different places to go and get the right support and help.”

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The Saskatoon Open Door Society has welcomed 485 Syrian refugees in the past year.

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