Friday, 21 October 2016

The curious case of a Syrian refugee solved by the UAE

Time and time again the UAE has proved that there are no borders to the humanity of its leaders who at the mere knowledge of Sinjab’s case moved to offer him a safer life with no petitions or pleas needed 


O
n a daily basis the media is saturated with news about refugees escaping imminent death, heading towards unknown borders in hopes of finding a semblance of what their lives used to be. We read reports on the unfathomable numbers who will never reach the refuge they sought instead are drowned by the very waves they hoped would lead them to it. At times it seems as if the whole world has become a refugee and the few of us, who are privileged enough to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock instead of a siren, those of us who are enveloped by a veil of safety many of us fail to appreciate, have become desensitised to the migrating numbers, to the images of the dead, shrugging them away as a collective misery that this ailing part of the world must endure. 

In a sea of human beings, it is difficult, at times even impossible, to see the human as being. This is where the obligation of the media lies, where it must shed light on the afflicted person and bring them to light as an individual and not a statistic. In a report done by the United Arab Emirates’ Al Khaleej Newspaper one such case was brought to the forefront. The story of Khaldoun Sinjab, a Syrian refugee residing in Lebanon, who at the age of 17 was rendered quadriplegic by a diving accident. Sinjab was not always bed-ridden for prior to this debilitating accident he graduated top of his class in Damascus and was a champion swimmer on the Syrian national team. Yet while the accident paralysed his body it did not halt his spirit for Sinjab continued to study, with books propped up on a glass table he managed to master the English language and become proficient in computer programming. He later found a job and married, persevering through every curveball life threw at him. Sinjab continued to live life as one should, one day at a time and to the fullest of his abilities. As the war in Syria began to rage Sinjab was uprooted, like many, from his home and sought refuge in neighbouring Lebanon and while he continues to work he is continuously fearful for his life for in Lebanon electricity can shut down for almost 12 hours a day and with his complete dependence on a ventilator the threat of death by suffocation is very much an everyday reality. 

There are many petitions online for Sinjab’s relocation, he has applied for refuge to Canada and the UK but his case has been rejected on the grounds that if he is employed then he is not in dire need of relocation. Such is life now, a person becomes a figure on a chart and falls victim to a technicality. For years Sinjab’s endless pleas to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have gone unanswered until his salvation came from a place he never sought. 

After the report on Sinjab was published in the United Arab Emirates his case was immediately taken up by the government who has followed up on his condition and has taken no more than a few months to relocate him and his family to Abu Dhabi where he is currently being overseen at the Cleveland Clinic. The efforts of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed and the immediacy in response of the UAE’s diligent Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed has shown that the UAE media’s voice is not only heard but also heeded. Time and time again the UAE has proved that there are no borders to the humanity of its leaders who at the mere knowledge of Sinjab’s case moved to offer him a safer life with no petitions or pleas needed.

Upon landing, although exhausted from the flight and overwhelmed by the number of medical crew there to assist him, photographers were moved to see the wide-eyed smile that was drawn on Sinjab’s face.

It is at times like these that this writer does not only consider herself lucky but immensely proud to be a daughter of this greatly humane nation. 

This article first appeared in The Gulf Today newspaper on 21, October, 2016 http://bit.ly/2ez4R72
Arabic version of this article appeared in Al Khaleej newspaper http://bit.ly/2dF6kuZ

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