Friday 23 March 2018

George and Amal Clooney meet Syrian families in Berlin to discuss refugee crisis

David Miliband, George Clooney and Amal Clooney listen to the experiences of the refugees
David Miliband, George Clooney and Amal Clooney listen to the experiences of the refugees

George and Amal Clooney met with Syrian families in Berlin to listen to their experiences and speak about the refugee crisis.

The Hail, Caesar! star and his wife have partnered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and marked the fifth anniversary of the war in Syria with a video in which they reflect on the difficult situation faced by immigrants.

The actor said: "You forget that these aren't just people who have left their country for no reason at all. These are people who have left because of incredible tragedy."

Mrs Clooney, a British-Lebanese human rights lawyer, told the three refugee families about her own experience of seeking asylum.

She said: "My own family is from Lebanon and they also ran away from a war, and were lucky enough to be accepted by a European country in 1982 when the violence there was really bad.

"And many years later, everybody's doing well and my father has returned to Beirut. I hope that, as you say, you will be able to go back to a safe and free Syria."

Her husband also reflected on his Irish ancestry, saying: " 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, is a country of immigrants."

He added: "We have not recently done a very good job of remembering who we are. And being here and talking with you is important to remind them of who we are. And who we have always been - which is you."

The Clooneys heard from Syrians about their experiences of watching shootings, being tortured with electricity, and trying to protect their families in their war-ravaged homeland.

Former Labour MP David Miliband, president and chief executive of the IRC, asked Clooney what he had gained from the conversations.

Clooney said: " It's too much to talk about giant numbers, it's actually easy to dismiss giant numbers.

"But it's very hard to dismiss a young child sitting on the ground crying when her mother is telling the story about how she left, how she grabbed her daughter and sat on the ground and said, 'If I die, I want to die by a bullet because it would be quicker'.

"We as what we like to think of as a civilised world and nation always look around at the end of these tragedies and say, 'If we knew, we would have done something'. And the reality of it is of course - we know."

Press Association

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