Unifor Welcomes Syrian Refugee Families

OTTAWA, Aug. 26, 2016 /CNW/ - Unifor members welcomed two Syrian refugee families, sponsored by Unifor and the union's Social Justice Fund to come to Canada with the assistance of Lifeline Syria, at its Convention today.

"It is difficult to imagine what these two families have been through, and what it took for them to get to Canada," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "The fact that they are here is a testament to their determination to build a better life for their children and Unifor is so grateful that we were able to play a role in helping them achieve that goal."

The Babatjl and Alomar families both arrived in Toronto earlier this week before making their way to Ottawa to be introduced to their new Unifor family.

Abdulraouf (Raouf) and Bana Babatjl and their daughters fled Aleppo, Syria in 2012, when their youngest was just a month old.  "We had no water, no electricity, no milk for the children," said Raouf. "It was impossible for us to continue our lives in Aleppo."

Ammar Alomar and Angham Ahmad lived on the outskirts of Damascus with their son Joud and daughter Hanan. In 2012, an attack on their neighbourhood left 62 people dead. The family escaped to Egypt, where they spent the last four years before receiving the life-changing news that they would become Canadians.

"When we approached Lifeline Syria to sponsor families we were told that money alone would not be enough, each family needed multiple volunteers who were willing to open up their homes, their hearts and commit a year of their life to assist with resettlement," said Mohamad Alsadi, Unifor Director, Human Rights and International Department. "Unifor members jumped at the opportunity to sign up, which is why it was such a pleasure to be able to bring the families here today to finally meet them in person."

Financial sponsorship of the refugees was made possible through Unifor's Social Justice Fund.  The union sponsored five families in total and will continue to work with Locals across the country to raise further funds to assist more Syrian refugees. Unifor's second Convention concluded today at Ottawa's Shaw Centre.  The theme of the Convention was It's time, with more than 1,800 members from across the country in attendance.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers in every sector of the economy.  It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.


For further information: To book an interview with members of the Babatjl or Alomar families or with Mohamad Alsadi, Director, Human Rights and International Department please contact Kathleen O'Keefe at Kathleen.OKeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

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