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Family links: tears of relief in a camp in Syria

07-05-2003 Feature

Bourak, a 17-year-old Iraqi girl, lost contact with her family in the flight from war in her homeland. With help from the ICRC she found them again in a refugee camp in Syria. Lana Baydas reports from Damascus


  Al Hol Refugee camp.Bourak (right) reunited with her family 

" I want to see my youngest brother saying his first words, calling my name " Bourak told Mayya, the ICRC tracing officer in Syria. Bourak, a 17-year old Iraqi girl, came to Syria two months ago to stay with relatives while waiting for the rest of her family to leave Iraq and join her.

Bourak's father told the ICRC: " I came to Syria with my daughter almost 2 months ago, left her here and went back to Iraq to bring the rest of my family. However, with the beginning of war in Iraq, it was impossible for the family and me to cross into Syria and be with Bourak. " Later, when the family finally arrived at the al-Hol camp, in northwestern Syria, the father approached the ICRC in a desperate attempt to locate his daughter. She was found soon afterwards in a suburb of Damascus.

An ICRC staff member accompanied Bourak to al-Hol camp, where she met her family in a cascade of tears, laughs, anxiety and joy. " I am so happy to be with my family, after thinking I would never seeing them again " , Bourak said.

Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, the ICRC Syria has enabled Iraqi refugees to contact their families abroad through more tha n 600 satellite phone calls and dozens of " Safe and well " messages.