Syrian refugees are in the news as they now invade Europe, but they made the news in Latin America earlier this year due to allegations of wife and child abuse.
The video below, which I posted in this morning’s Carnival after translating (below the fold since it starts right away), describes that, after Jose Mujica brought to the country forty-five* members of five families who arrived in October 2014, one of the priests at the Marist location housing them claimed to have witnessed one of the Syrian men repeatedly beat up his wife and children.
[*The number is not clear: While most reports refer to five families, the actual number of people varies from 42 to 45.]
The ensuing investigation was later tabled by the authorities, who decided that the matter was a misunderstanding that cleared up after the families left the Marist shelter for permanent housing (“pero que se solucionaron una vez abandonaron la casa de retiros de los Hermanos Maristas para ir a sus hogares definitivos”), while the local police did not contact directly any of the Syrians.
Ponder that for a moment.
The Syrians were promised before their arrival that no one would interfere with their customs. When the priest interrupted the beating and warned the man that domestic violence is against the law, the man demanded that he and his family be relocated to Europe.
In another instance, a Syrian boy was treated at the Pereira Rossell Hospital for an arm fracture caused by his father’s beating.
At the time Frances Martel reported
Uruguayan President Tabaré Vásquez halted the program, started by predecessor José Mujica, until the government could reassess the costs and benefits to the nation. In February, Uruguay announced that it would no longer take in male Syrian refugees due to a surge in domestic violence in the community, before halting the influx of refugees altogether in March.
Discussing the challenges facing Uruguayan society in assimilating Syrians, Human Rights Secretary Javier Miranda told the Uruguayan legislature how he had encountered child abuse among Syrians.
After the case was dismissed, Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa announced that Uruguay will welcome an additional seven Syrian families with 72 members (Mujica implies it would be an additional 80 people in the video below).
The refugees are receiving housing, health care, education and financial support from the government, but that aid is scheduled to end next year.
Now the five families are camping in protest and demand to be relocated to other countries who may take them, naming lack of economic opportunities in Uruguay,
“I am not afraid to go back to Lebanon,” said 36-year-old Aldees Maher, whose family had initially sought safety in a refugee camp across the border from Syria. “I want a place that guarantees me, my family a life.”
Interestingly (emphasis added),
Maher Aldees’s family, the one that got stranded in Istanbul, had been living in the coastal city of Piriápolis, where local officials accused the parents of not sending their daughters to school. Authorities later said the issue was resolved.
Aldees and his family tried to leave for Serbia, but after 23 days at the Istanbul airport, Turkish authorities sent them back to Uruguay. Another Syrian family, the Ashlebis, joined in the protest.
Mujica, no longer president, claims that the fiasco is due to the protesting Syrians not being used to used to heavy labor since they are of middle-class, white-collar background, and that Mujica had envisioned the program for farm laborers. However, the Ashlebis come from a rural background.
Video below the fold: