Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Don't Fear Us, Even the Single Men, Syrian Refugees Tell Canadians

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Don't Fear Us, Even the Single Men, Syrian Refugees Tell Canadians

Article excerpt

Don't fear us, Syrian refugees tell Canadians

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AMMAN, Jordan - Khaled Dos says he understands why Canada is focusing on families as it chooses thousands of potential new citizens from among the millions of Syrian refugees desperate for a fresh start.

It's hardest for those with young children to find safety, either in Syria or in one of the countries they now live, the 25-year-old single man says through a translator.

"But surely, Canada could just set aside a few spots -- just a few -- for someone like me?"

Dos fled Syria in 2012 to avoid getting conscripted into the military. He'd managed to stay out by being in school, but Syrian President Basar Assad's forces were cutting up the papers of young men just like him and dragging them off to war.

Now he lives in Jordan, unable to get back to school because he can't afford it, competing with thousands of other young Syrian men for the underground jobs they can get, and using social media to raise awareness of his country's struggles.

No one helps people in his situation, he says. Aid money goes to help young children, scholarships to those with connections. Yet, it's young men who are the future leaders of the country.

"I have ambition. I have hope to have a different future," he says.

As a registered UN refugee, he theoretically has a chance of finding a new home in one of the countries that resettles refugees.

But the Liberal government's decision to focus on resettling women, children and families places him all the way at the bottom of their list, a position entrenched after last month's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

While no link between the attackers and the flow of Syrian refugees across Europe has been proven, early suspicion and persistent fear resulted in pressure on the Liberals to make their criteria more stringent to minimize risk.

If Canada is worried about terrorists, they should go after Assad, instead of over-analyzing the refugees trying to escape his regime, says Abdelhakim Ali Mahmoud.

Mahmoud, 44, has five sons and a daughter. The eldest, Yousef, has a hole in his heart and has been reaching out to countries around the world for years looking for someone who might take them in so he can get the treatment he needs. …

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