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2016

Katie MacLean, the organiser of resettlement of Syrian refugees in Inverurie, shares her story and gives an insight into her work over the last six months.


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In September 2015,

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the UK government made a commitment

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to resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees into the UK.

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Scotland responded with a 2,000 pledge of people

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and Aberdeenshire Council pledged to resettle up to 50 Syrian families

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over the next four or five years.

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Were you here last week?

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SHE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE

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OK.

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'When the families first arrive in Aberdeenshire,

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'they are absolutely terrified.

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'They don't know how to access any of the essential services they need.

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'All the families that we have are here

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'through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme'

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so they have real emergencies, real urgencies.

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They have medical conditions, serious medical conditions.

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Others have been victims of warfare or torture.

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HE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE

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His son has got haemophilia

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and now currently he lives in Dubai on his own

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and he doesn't have the right medication,

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it's not provided there.

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So they're trying to bring him here so he can be with the family.

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Just have a look. You know when you're steaming,

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make sure there's no marks.

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They were absolutely adamant

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that they didn't want to just be in receipt of support,

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that it was always about what they could contribute,

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what they could give back.

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Everybody wants to work, a number of people are volunteering.

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-Can I get one apple juice as well?

-Apple juice.

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And that's super because they're volunteering,

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it's real integration, they're in environments where

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they may still not be speaking an awful lot of English

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but they're getting by and they're functioning

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and they're meeting English speakers every day.

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-What's your name?

-Jakey.

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I am Bassel.

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Refugee resettlement is brutal, absolutely brutal.

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It's just another...

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another step in a very, very difficult,

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emotional, arduous journey.

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It's not an end result.

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People are incredibly grateful, they couldn't be more grateful,

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more thankful to be safe, to be receiving medical treatment,

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to be given support

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but they still have to live every day with the realities.

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SHE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE

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They used to be a very happy family,

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small family, happy, content,

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medication is available for their children.

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Then the war started and they had to move,

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they were displaced, even within Syria from one place to the other.

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For some, they had to flee immediately,

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their houses were destroyed.

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For others, it was more fear of what could happen.

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The one thing that did happen was that many families separated

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and, in particular, families with young sons tended to be separated.

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HE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE

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Although they're safe and happy here

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and everything is available for them

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and they feel secure but still,

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there is a big part missing from their life.

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He goes to bed every night thinking about his son.

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What is he doing, is he feeling all right, is he safe,

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does he have his medicine?

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And it's the case for every single Syrian family here.

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No matter how much they progress here,

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they love their sons and daughters when they were five and 15,

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now that they're 25, they don't love them any less

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but because they're adults,

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they're not necessarily allowed to have them with them.

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We've learned a huge amount about how people live their lives,

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how similar we are in lots of ways and actually our differences,

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they aren't the ones that we think they are.

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They're not about religion, politics,

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they're about whether you like

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four spoonfuls of sugar in your coffee or two.

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They're simple things that separate us, not the big things.

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But it's an experience that's been an honour to be part of.

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The plight of Syrian refugees is truly shocking. The horrors from which they come are unimaginable, and the pain of indefinite separation from close family is more than most could bear.

Katie MacLean is the charismatic organiser of resettlement of Syrian refugees in Inverurie. She shares her story, giving insight into her work over the last six months.