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Syrian refugees yearn for home

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Abir Wahish and daughter Ruby

Abir Wahish and
daughter Ruby

A PUBLIC meeting aimed at discussing plans to offer support to Syrian refugees due to arrive in the country was held at the Antioch Centre in Llanelli on Monday (May 16).

Organisations including Syria Sir Gar, Carmarthenshire County Council and Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST) were in attendance.

Following an announcement from Carmarthenshire County Council that it will be hosting vulnerable people as part of a national Home Office initiative, the voluntary group Syria Sir Gar has formed to offer humanitarian support to the new arrivals.

Addressing the meeting Carmarthenshire County Council’s Head of Public Protection and Housing Robin Staines said: “The UK government agreed to assist 20,000 people coming to the UK, fleeing the war in Syria.

“Our council looked at the situation last September (2015) and we agreed to house sixty households. A household could be an individual or a family. If you break that down to a national quota, the council would be more than meeting their responsibilities as part of that response.

“Since September, we have been working and planning to put things into place.”

Mr Staines said the council had had a fantastic response form the public and voluntary sector across Carmarthenshire and had been planning for six months to put all the logistics in place.

Explaining how the Council would rehouse refugees, Mr Staines said that the council went out to tender for professional services to support the families and that they had chosen EYST based in Swansea.

He continued: “A number of provisions had to be put in place including Housing and Support provision, Bank Accounts, National Insurance Numbers, Biometric Identification and accommodation, which the council are finalising with private landlords.

“The properties are there and we have the support in place. The critical success of this will be the community and how the community opens its arms and welcomes those families in and gives them the support as I know the people of Llanelli will.”

Abir Wahish is a Syrian who has been resident in Carmarthenshire since 2006.

She gave a presentation on her homeland and decried media coverage of it. She claimed media reports were failing to show the rich history, beauty and strategic importance of the country. She said that she believed that this was a deliberate attempt at diverting attention away from the real issue, which was a possible land grab by other Middle Eastern counties, leaving Syrians without a country to go back to.

Speaking to The Herald after the meeting Abir said: “The media keeps showing a negative image of Syria. This is unfair and unjust. It is like they are trying to distract people from the real reason or knowing about the root causes of what is happening there.

“Syria is a wonderful country in a very important strategic location and probably there are people who are stealing this land. All the refugees are being pushed out. If there are no Syrians left, the land is up for grabs. If it were only a matter of a dictatorial regime and opposition to that regime, it would have been solved by now. I feel outside powers are trying to push it further.”

The Herald asked Abir what she would say to those who claim an influx of refugees will place a stress on local resources.

“It is important for people to know that most refugees will want to go back to Syria, which is a very beautiful country. It is important to help refugees keep ownership of their land in Syria, so they can return. I would like to ensure the land is safeguarded.

“I am very concerned that the Syrian people will end up like the Palestinians without the right to return. If you really want to help the Syrian people help them keep the ownership of Syria for the Syrians. It is an open place where people have co-existed. It is a peaceful place. There is no need to fear from the Syrian people. There is no need to fear that they will be taking your jobs. They want to go back and they will go back.”

Abir told The Herald that she had returned to Syria many times, even during the war.

“I go back to Syria every year. I didn’t stop going back. I went with my children and they went to school there. Every day I wake up and think, should I go back to Syria.

“I like it here but Syria is a beautiful country.

“My main message would be that I would welcome anyone with fears and concerns to talk and hopefully show that there is no need to fear anything. I would beg the media to stop destroying Syria and this country with their negative narrative. This meeting is a wonderful start.”

Abir explained: “I am not denying the destruction. People are suffering there from poverty, no currency, no jobs no electricity. They are being put in a pressure cooker. They have either been pushed out by force or they are being pushed out because they have nothing left to stay for. They are getting faith from their belonging to the land and from God. They believe that if they leave and go to another country their land will be stolen and that they will not be accepted and that they will be humiliated.”

In a final plea she said: “It is fantastic to see people giving clothes and teddies etc.; but in this democratic country, while you can, please help the Syrians politically to be able to go back to their country legally.”

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Three men arrested over charity box and cafe thefts

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THREE men are being questioned by police in connection with a burglary in Llanelli this weekend.

A cash register containing around £1,500, a charity collection box, and approximately £1,000 worth of stock were stolen from Marzano’s Café Bar in Cowell Street in the early hours of Sunday, February 16.

Today (Tuesday) three men aged 35, 39 and 27 were arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Chief Inspector Chris Neve said property searches were also being conducted in the Llanelli area as part of the investigation.

“I would like to reassure the community of Llanelli that we take incidents like this extremely seriously,” said Chief Inspector Neve.

“I would also like to thank everyone who has come forward with information so far.”

Café owner Andrew Marzano said: “I am extremely grateful to Dyfed-Powys Police for their efforts since we reported the incident to them. 

“I am also extremely grateful and humbled to the local community as we have had hundreds of messages of support from far and wide.”

Anyone with further information that could help police should contact 101, quoting reference DPP/0005/17/02/2020/01/C.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can also text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Dyfed-Powys Police appeal following Llanelli road traffic collision

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Dyfed-Powys Police is appealing for information following a road traffic collision which occurred at approximately 12.15am, this morning, Tuesday 18th February, 2020.

A black Audi A4 estate and a pedestrian were involved in the collision on Station Rd, Llanelli. The pedestrian was taken to hospital with what are described as serious injuries.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, anyone who has information regarding the collision or information relating to the occupant of the vehicle is urged to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit quoting reference DP-20200218-006.

Police can be contacted by phoning 101, online at http://bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, or by email. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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Lee Waters AM meets with prize winning students

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LOCAL Member of the Senedd Lee Waters visited Coleg Sir Gar to meet with prize winning students on Friday.

Three students from the college have won prestigious medals in the UK leg of the World Skills championship. WorldSkills UK Live is the UK national final for vocational skills competitions and brings together apprentices and young people from across the four nations to compete to world class standards in their chosen fields.

Llanelli’s Kieran Davies won a gold medal in the IT Support Technician category. Anwen Evans won a bronze in the health and social care category after being judged for how well she dealt with a patient with autism in a mock flat, and Lewis Hall won a Gold for woodworking.

Lee Waters MS said:“I was very impressed by the achievements of these award winning Coleg Sir Gar students beating off stiff competition from across the UK to win medals at the UK leg of the world-wide WorldSkills championship.

“It’s huge credit to them and their tutors for these real achievements.”

Pictured are Kieran Davies (wearing Red), Lewis Hall (wearing chequered shirt), Anwen Evans, Lee Waters MS and Andrew Cornish of Coleg Sir Gar

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