Syrian refugees in Canada hope British royals will advocate for ‘people in need’

September 26, 2016

By The Guardian |

Syrian refugees in Canada said they hoped the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would encourage the world to do more to address the refugee crisis, after the royal couple stopped at an immigrant and refugee welcoming centre as part of their visit to Canada.

The royal couple, along with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, landed in Victoria, Canada on Saturday to kick off an eight-day visit.

Sunday’s schedule included a visit to a newly built facility run by the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia that offers English classes and housing, employment and settlement resources to newly arrived immigrants and refugees.

The royal couple sat down with Alaa Al Mahameed, 36, and his wife, Yosra, 35, who arrived in Canada with their two young daughters in August. Three years earlier, amid constant shelling, the family fled their village in Syria, ending up in Jordan.

“We feel safe here. Much more safe,” Yosra told the duchess through a translator while Prince William asked her husband about the future of Syria.

“It’s not promising, sir,” he replied. “There is no hope on the horizon.”

The family arrived in Canada as part of the 30,000 Syrian refugees accepted into the country in the past year.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Al Mahameed said he hoped the royal couple would convince world leaders to help refugees. “The message we hope they will deliver is to help people in need.”

The sentiment was echoed by Mohammed Alsaleh, a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada in 2014 and who was on hand during the visit to help with translation. He told the Vancouver Sun he hoped the royal couple would spread the message “to help people in need, people who are stuck in borders … and encourage people to welcome refugees the same way we were welcomed here”.

Speaking to Sky News after the visit, the aunt of Alan Kurdi – the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was found washed up on a beach last year – said she also believed the royal couple could play a vital role in addressing the crisis. “They have the power to deliver messages and I hope when they see what we did in Canada, it will inspire them, and when they go back home they will do something about it,” Tima Kurdi told the broadcaster from her home near Vancouver.

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