Amal Clooney has described how her family were forced to flee to Europe as their homeland was ravaged by civil war during a meeting with Syrian refugees, The Independent reports.
Amal and her husband George Clooney met with Syrian refugees living in Berlin to mark the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict, which has displaced at least 4.8 million people internationally and six million internally. They have repeatedly urged Governments to act in the crisis and met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in February to back her open door policy on refugees.
In a video of their meeting, which was released by the International Rescue Committee, they spoke to one refugee who said he was detained as a political prisoner and tortured with electricity. Others described how they had escaped shootings with their children and feared for their lives.
Amal, a leading human rights lawyer, recalled how her own family were forced to flee violence when she was three, leaving their home in Beirut, in Lebanon, behind.
“My own family is from Lebanon,“ she said. “They also ran away from a war and was lucky enough to be accepted by a European country in 1982 when the violence there was really bad. Many years later, my family is doing well. My father has returned to Beirut.
“I hope you will be able to go back to a safe and free Syria.”
George also explained how his family were Irish descendants and criticised the US for “forgetting who we are”.
“I’m of Irish descent and in America, 100 years ago, we were refugees, my family. Irish were treated terribly in America for a period of time and not accepted, and America learned to accept all of these ideas. It’s what our country is, a country of immigrants.”
Speaking directly about the Syrian crisis, he went on: “You forget that these are people who didn’t just leave their country for no reason at all. These are people who left because a terrible tragedy.
‘We always look around at the end of these tragedies and say if we knew, we would have done something and the reality is, of course we know.
‘What is shocking to me is not that it happened but its continuing to happen for five years.’“