Syrian refugee crisis has local ties

By Kirsten Glavin


RHODE ISLAND – It’s become an international crisis. One that may soon affect Americans.  Overseas, millions of Syrian refugees are being displaced throughout the Middle East and Europe, due to Syria’s on-going civil war.  President Obama declared Thursday that he wants to do more to help, and increase the number of refugees allowed in America during the next fiscal year.

Youssef Bahra was born in Syria and is now a citizen of Rhode Island.  He has personal reasons for concern, about the ongoing crisis.  "I’m sick worried about my family and friends,” he said.

He has 2 brothers, currently living in Damascus, the capital and second largest city in Syria.  One brother thinks about leaving.  Another  fears he’s too old to make the journey.  "He thought about it, but he said where am I going to go?  He doesn’t want to go die in an ocean, he said I would rather die right in my own house,” Bahra said.

He described the situation as disheartening, and said refugees continue to have no choice.

"They’re not choosing certain countries, they just want to be away from the killing,” he added.

President Obama told his administration Thursday, to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed in the states from 2,000 to 10,000 during the next fiscal year, starting in October.

"The United States leads the world in bringing refugees across the globe, so we are doing a great deal,” said Rhode Island Senator, Jack Reed (D).   Senator Reed said it’s unlikely Rhode Island will be a front–runner in housing refugees.  He believes places with dense populations of Syrian communities, such as California and Michigan, are prime candidates.  "My sense would be that those would be the first places that Syrian refugees would be directed to because there is the built in support system."

© WLNE-TV 2015