– 15 March 2019
Separated by war: Syrian brothers reunited after years apart
Reunited at last, eight-year-old Kareem and his little brother Badr wept and hugged as they realised their long years of separation were finally over.
The boys lost sight of each other as they fled the bombs and bullets that were ravaging their home city of Aleppo in Syria two years ago. By the time Kareem, just six at the time, arrived in Damascus, he found himself all alone in a strange and dangerous city.
Their mother had been killed in the war years before, and with a neglectful and abusive father, all the boys had was each other.
Now with the help of family reunification specialists at SOS Children’s Villages, the boys have found each other again, and a safe and loving home with their uncle.
The police found Kareem wandering the streets of Damascus alone and brought him to our interim care center in the war-ravaged city. Terrified that he would be sent back to live with his father, the little boy at first refused to talk. He trusted no one, preferred to be alone and refused to answer any questions about himself.
But slowly, with enough support, Kareem began to open up and share his story with his SOS psychologist Zeina. Crucially, he admitted to having an uncle.
“For us it became a mission,” Zeina explains. “We had to find Kareem’s uncle for him. We had to know we had done everything we could for this child.”
It took several months of hard work, but eventually their searching paid off and the SOS Reunification Strengthening team located Kareem’s remaining family. And best of all, they discovered that his little brother Badr was living there too.
As the brothers ran and hugged each other for the first time in years, everyone on the SOS team wept.
Kareem’s uncle was overjoyed at finding his nephew alive and well, and he desperately wanted to offer him a home, but money was tight. He didn’t know how he would afford to raise two children. The four-year battle for control of the former rebel stronghold has decimated the country’s infrastructure and economy and finding steady employment can be a real challenge.
SOS Children’s Villages offered to support the family so they could stay together. We have helped the boy’s uncle open a grocery shop so he can support the boys financially, registered the children back in school, and offered help with school expenses, tuition and medical expenses.
Today Kareem is in the third grade and he is flourishing under his uncle’s care. He and his little brother are inseparable, best friends and brothers alike.
“Thank you for finding my uncle and my brother,” he says smiling broadly. “Thank you for helping me.”
Today, the world marks the eighth anniversary of the start of the Syrian civil war. Families are beginning to return to the beleaguered city of Aleppo – but it will be years, perhaps decades, before normal life can resume there for children like Kareem and Badr. Find out more about our work protecting children growing up in conflict and disaster.