An ordinary father taking extraordinary action

Blogs, Emergencies article written on the 19 Aug 2016

By Rights in Crisis Campaign Lead, Jessica Wheelock

Worldwide, more than 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes to be free from conflict, violence and persecution. This includes around half the Syrian population; almost five million of whom have left the country.

They’re ordinary people, fathers like Ahmad, performing extraordinary acts in the hope of a better life for their families.

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

The conflict in Syria has shattered Ahmad’s and his family’s life.

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Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

One of his daughters, Sara* (pictured), was shot in the head. The bullet grazed her skull and left pieces of shrapnel in her scalp. Thankfully Sara survived.

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Many people don’t want to leave Syria. But Ahmad chose to flee with his family in January 2013. His hope for a better life for them involved a long and harrowing journey to Jordan.

Photo: Tom White/PA

Photo: Tom White/PA

They spent four days in Za’atari refugee camp. Now the fourth biggest city in Jordan, the camp now houses around 80,000 Syrian refugees.

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Ahmad and his wife, Thakaa, moved from the camp to live with their five children in an apartment in Zarka, Jordan. But after everything they’ve been through, Ahmad wants to take his family to safety in Europe.

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Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Holding his six-month-old baby Reem*, Ahmad says: “We have one life and one death. I’ve faced death several times. I’ve nearly been shot three times and I’ve seen people killed in front of me.”

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

The trip to safety in Europe is not an easy one. Syrian refugees have an invidious choice to make. An extraordinary choice. Many refugees have died trying to get to Europe.

“[But] I’m willing to take the risk … if it will help my children have a better life,” says Ahmad.

Oxfam is currently working in Za’atari refugee camp. We are providing refugees like Ahmad and his family with access to clean water and sanitation. We’re working with partners to construct a water network throughout the camp that will address the needs of all 80,000 people who live there.

This work is partly made possible through the extraordinary generosity of many thousands of Australians.

But the Australian Government can do more.

Australia is the 12th richest nation on the planet, but we are not pulling our weight internationally to help deal with the biggest refugee crisis since WWII. Last year, Germany hosted more than one million refugees and asylum seekers, equivalent to 1.3% of its population.

We’re asking the Australian Government to do its bit by lifting our humanitarian intake from 13,750 this year to 42,000 by 2020–21. This would still be just 0.18% of our population.

Right to Refuge

Everyone deserves to live in safety. And everyone has the right to seek refuge when their safety and dignity is threatened.

Act now

*Names have been changed