Zaher Alwattar, a Syrian-American handyman living in Columbus, Ohio, makes the same call nearly every day. He has been calling the U.S. State Department, asking them for help to bring his brother and his brother’s family from Syria, here, to the United States.
Alwattar describes his brother “like a twin.” They grew up together in Syria in the 1980’s, sharing the same friends and same experiences, until Alwattar found himself in a Syrian prison. He still does not know the crime, but he knew once he got out, it was time to leave. Alwattar left Syria to study agriculture in the United States, and his brother stayed in Syria and became a doctor. Since Syria’s civil war, doctors have become targets. Aiding the enemy, even providing medical care, makes them into the enemy. Alwattar’s brother has another reason to fear as well, his children. Alwattar’s nephew was killed last spring after going out for a walk.
With the number of Syrian refugees now at more than 2 million, half of them children, the U.N. is calling Syria the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. But the U.S. has only taken in 90 Syrian refugees since the civil war began. (What refugees have come to the U.S. in the biggest numbers? Read the story here.)