Escaping Syria: One US citizen hopes new commitment to refugees will help her family

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HARTFORD--Millions of Syrian refugees have been displaced by the violent and ruthless civil war.

The United States recently pledged to take 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, but the process can be long, arduous and costly.

Ghoufran Allababidi is far away from her home country of Syria, but her loved ones are always on her mind; it's a dark time for her relatives trying to escape the deadly civil war.

"My family has lost everything,” said Allababidi. “They've lost their homes, the children had lost the school.”

Allababidi, a U.S. citizen, moved here with her husband in 2000, but went back to visit Syria every year.

Those trips stopped five years ago, when unrest began in the country.

Her relatives are now scattered because of the violence. Her brother and his family escaped to Turkey. Her 10-year-old niece, Hibe, spent 25 stressful days traveling to Sweden.

"I still have another brother, another sister, my aunt,” said Allababidi. "They are in unsafe zone and we don't know what the solution is."

But Allababidi says there really isn't a safe place in her home country.

"There's killing and kidnapping everywhere,” she went on. "There is no safe zone."

Allababidi is among many in the U.S. who want to bring their families here, but the process can be long.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal unveiled a plan on Monday he believes will help cut through red tape, without compromising security. The four key pillars of the plan include:

  • Allowing refugees with U.S. relatives to apply directly to our government, instead of to the U.N.
  • Making sure refugees undergo necessary screenings once, instead of repeatedly.
  • Allowing security screenings through videoconferencing to reduce travel costs.
  • Permitting an approved individual to the U.S. even if their family is awaiting approval.

"There are literally thousands of people who could be eligible to come here more quickly,” said Blumenthal, “people who pose no security threat, who in fact will contribute to our nation."

Inter-faith organizations in Connecticut are also working together to efficiently settle families with housing and employment options, which Allababidi says could make a difference.

"They lost everything but the hope,” said Allababidi, “they have hope, they have trust in this world."