Syrian refugees settle into new lives in Derry

Syrian Refugees in Derry

A group of Syrian refugees living in Londonderry have spoken for the first time about what life was like in their war-torn country.

About 50 arrived in the city in May and the families have spent the last three months settling in to their new lives.

A total of 98 refugees have now arrived in Northern Ireland since the conflict. The first group of Syrian refugees arrived in December 2015.

The war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people.

Some of the refugees in Derry were at the North West Regional College on Tuesday to find out more about learning courses.

Image caption The refugees were at the college to find out about courses

Bayan Khello, 18, had to leave many of her family behind including her brother who is currently in Germany.

Bayan spoke to BBC Radio Foyle through an interpreter.

"I still have family in Turkey and Aleppo, the sons of my cousin are still there, we have put in an application to have our family unified here.

"My uncle and my cousin were killed in the war. My cousin was going back from his work when a sniper shot him in the chest. That was one of my worst days," she said.

Bayan, who wears a free Syria wristband in the colours of her native country, said she did not want to leave her home.

"I didn't want to leave Aleppo, I wasn't eating for two months. Then my father told me 'We have to live our life now, we have to make a new start'.

"I saw houses knocked down with children underneath, its time to end this war, its enough."

Bayan, who has a degree in accountancy, said she does not yet know what kind of life she will have in Northern Ireland, but she wants to study hard and learn English.

Yasser Al Satton left his home in Syria after chemical weapons were used in the area.

"Within the last month the house of one my relations was bombed and ten people were killed.

"Everything that comes to your mind, we lived it and we saw it. One of my relation's lost both of his hands when a bomb exploded.

"If we had hope that the war would end we would have stayed but I don't believe the war will end," he said.

Yasser said that he was adjusting to his new life in the North West very well.

A particular highlight was how friendly the people of Derry have been.

"Everybody says: 'Hello, how are you, how are you doing, what's the craic?" he added.

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