FEATURE: 'How we dodged bullets, bombs and Isis terrorists in Syria to reach safe streets of Sheffield'

The children in Turkey.

The children in Turkey.

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Millions of people have now fled war-torn Syria, including thousands upon thousands of families who faced the daily threat of savage bombing raids, street to street gun fights and the oppression of brutal terror group Isis. The Alnabo family are among the refugees who fled their homeland in a desperate search  for safety and a better life in the UK. They tell reporter Lee Peace about their dangerous journey from conflict-ravaged Aleppo to a quiet Sheffield suburb.

Amer Alnabo looks on as his three young children play happily together on the balcony of their plush flat overlooking the streets of their homecity Aleppo.
Suddenly, a huge bomb blast rocks several buildings across the street causing debris to fly across the road and shatter the windows of their tidy home.
Time stood still as Amer ran forward through the smoke and shattered glass to his two daughters and son on the balcony fearing they were dead.
It was the heart-stopping moment the 44-year-old doting father and his wife Ahlam, aged 38, who was in the kitchen at the time of the blast, decided they had no choice but to flee their beloved home.
Holding back tears remembering the crucial moment, Amer said: "The explosion was huge and there was glass everywhere and a lot of smoke and dust.
"I didn't know if my children were alive or dead. I ran forward but it was like time stood still. It was the worst moment of my life."
Thankfully, all three - Nour, aged 10, Zain, aged 6, and Jude, aged four, - were alive and well.
This was the final straw for Amer and Ahlam and they put plans in place to escape fearing the family could end up dead, like many of their friends and relatives.
Amer explained that they had already bore witness to too many horrors.
He said: "We used to watch the bombs going off from our window. It was very scary, none of us could sleep.
"We lived in the Government held part of the city. Food and water was very hard to get and the only shop was in the rebel held area, which had Government snipers on the rooftops.
"When we did our food shop we had to walk past dead bodies in the street. I saw someone get shot.
"Another time I was out getting food when I could hear a buzzing noise getting closer. A helicopter appeared and fired a missile. I had to duck out of the way, it was horrible."
The family had to run this gauntlet of death in the back of a car when they raced for the border with Turkey in the hope of salvation. After an anxious six hour wait, they were allowed in.
Ahlam said: "It was terrible having little food and water for our children and it was so cold."
They were rehomed in the city of Kayseri in 2013 and underwent two years of background checks and interviews before being given passage to the UK. The resettlement was pulled together by a range of organisations including the United Nations, Sheffield Council and the Refugee Council. Around 70 Syrian refugees now call the Steel City their home.

Amer and Ahlam Alnabo with their children Zain, Nour and Jude, who fled Syria during the war and have resettled in Sheffield.

Amer and Ahlam Alnabo with their children Zain, Nour and Jude, who fled Syria during the war and have resettled in Sheffield.

The family arrived in Sheffield in time for Christmas 2015 and they have settled into a private-rented home in Fox Hill. They have never looked back.

They have all learned to speak English, Amer - who was an accountant for the Syrian Government - now works for the Royal Mail, and the kids are thriving in school.
Amer said: "We want to say a big thank you to the people of Sheffield and the UK. You have changed our lives and given us hope.
"We love Sheffield. My children are happy at school, everyone is always smiling and we enjoy going to Weston Park and Millhouses Park. It is a really multi-cultural place and we have been made to feel very welcome."

He added that if anyone is at risk of post-traumatic stress then it's himself and Ahlam rather than the children.

Said Amer: "The children say they can't remember, and they are doing very well. They just get on with it. If anyone is likely to have problems it is probably us - the adults. But we try not to think about it, it's too painful."

Artwork by Ahlam.

Artwork by Ahlam.

He added: "We miss Aleppo, it is steeped in history and it makes us very sad to see whats happening there. But I doubt we will ever be able to go back.
"The biggest difference between Aleppo and Sheffield is the feeling of safety. We now feel safe."
Daughter Nour said: "I have a lot of friends and I like going to Weston Park Museum. School is fun and I enjoy maths."
But there is one thing Amer sometimes struggles with in their new life - the Sheffield dialect.
He joked: "My English is good but I struggle with the accent sometimes! Maybe I should learn a little more."

The Alnabo family.

The Alnabo family.

War-torn Syria.

War-torn Syria.

Fighting in Syria.

Fighting in Syria.