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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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Police appeal following assault in Llys Glan Y Mor

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POLICE in Llanelli are investigating an assault which occurred in the vicinity of St Davids Close and Llys Glan Y Mor, Llanelli sometime between 9.00pm on Saturday 10th April and 1.30am on Sunday 11th April 2021.

A 45-year-old male was taken to hospital with facial injuries.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.
They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.
Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference DPP/0006/11/04/2021/01/C.

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Police trace burglar who left trail of oil leading to his home

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A MAN was charged with burglary after leaving a trail of oil from a stolen generator leading police from a victim’s home to his own.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers were able to quickly trace Dominic William Oliver after he went on an overnight burglary spree in Burry Port in March.

The force received reports of two garage burglaries and a theft from a car overnight on Monday, March 8, with a generator, fishing rods, and two bags containing passports among the stolen items.

The combined value of the items taken was estimated to be around £800.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “An officer attended the victims’ homes, and was made aware of a trail of oil, which was believed to have come from the stolen generator.

“She followed it along several streets – one of which was where Oliver had stolen two bags from a car – and discovered that it ended outside a property on Dandorlan Road.

“Oliver agreed to a voluntary search being carried out, and as officers entered the property they immediately noticed a rucksack with a distinctive pattern that had been described by one of the victims.”

The search was completed, with further items suspected to have been stolen recovered from the address, and the 31-year-old was arrested on suspicion of burglary within six hours of the incidents being reported.

While being conveyed to police custody, Oliver made a significant comment linking him to the theft of the generator.

He was charged with two counts of burglary and one theft, and appeared at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on Friday, April 30.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months, must complete a rehabilitation requirement, and must remain at his home address between 8pm and 6am for three months.

Sgt Davies said: “This was an excellent response, which resulted in the swift arrest and charge of Oliver, and the recovery and return of stolen property to the victims the same day the offences were reported to us.

“This has no doubt had a positive impact on the residents of Burry Port, who have commented positively on how the matter was investigated.

“Community engagement, patrols and a crime prevention leaflet drop was carried out following the investigation to offer reassurance and advice.”

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Further coronavirus restriction relaxations brought forward

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FURTHER changes to the coronavirus restrictions have been announced by the First Minister Mark Drakeford today.

The Welsh Government has confirmed further relaxations will be brought forward from 17 May to 3 May – including the resumption of indoor supervised activities for children, indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults, such as exercise classes, and the re-opening of community centres.

This means Wales will have completed the move to Alert Level 3 by Monday 3 May.

From Saturday 24 April, the rule of 6 will allow for up to six people from six households to meet outdoors, not including children under 11 years of age or carers from those households.

The Welsh Government has also confirmed the relaxations that will take place on Monday 26 April. Outdoor attractions, including outdoor swimming pools, funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen, while outdoor hospitality can also resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people will be able to take place and weddings receptions can begin again outdoors for up to 30 people.

Wales has the lowest coronavirus rates of the UK nations.  The successful vaccine programme continues with a higher proportion of people vaccinated in Wales than other nations of the UK for both first and second doses.

Changes from Monday 3 May:

  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities being able to reopen;
  • People will also again be able to form extended households with one other household.

Relaxations planned for 17 May will be brought forward to the 3 May, including:

  • The resumption of indoor supervised activities for children;
  • Indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults (such as exercise classes and swimming lessons);
  • And the re-opening of community centres.

The First Minister said:

“The sacrifices we have made continue to show results. By us all working together and sticking to the rules, combined with our vaccination programme, mean we continue to make progress. Rates of the virus continue to fall and the public health situation is improving. 

“Due to these efforts we are able confirm more easing of the restrictions from 26 April and for early May we are again able to bring forward some of our plans. However, this progress is dependent on all of us continuing to work together to keep Wales safe.

“At the last three-week review, I set out a forward-look of how the restrictions could continue to be lifted in the weeks ahead, if the public health situation remains stable.

“It will be for the incoming Welsh Government to confirm these arrangements at the next three-week review, which will be held on May 13 – a week after the election. It is my assessment that the hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes – will be able to open indoors from May 17, together with all other tourist accommodation, indoor entertainment and attractions.”

Further possible easements are subject to the public health situation remaining favourable.

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