four years on

A Syrian living in Ireland thinks taking in 4,000 refugees is too little, too late

Ghandi Mallak thinks Irish citizenship is “an honour not an entitlement”. He is upset it has taken European politicians so long to help Syrian people.

YESTERDAY, GHANDI MALLAK told us about his efforts to help his family flee Syria.

syrian refugees Syrian refugees covered in dust arrive at the Trabeel border, after crossing into Jordanian territory with their families PA PA

Ghandi left Damascus 20 years ago and studied law in Beirut, Lebanon before moving to Europe. He has lived in Ireland for almost 15 years and opened a restaurant, Damascus Gate, on Camden Street in Dublin three years ago.

So, what does he think about the Irish government’s plan to take in 4,000 refugees?

“The 4,000 figure is too late. That’s completely out of date.”

He says he will believe that this many refugees will be resettled here when he sees it.

“The devil is in the detail, they might say it’s over the next seven years or [in the future] say they don’t have funding.”

new gif 2 Aoife Barry / Aoife Barry / /

Ghandi tells us he is sick of empty statements and describes the fact refugee resettlement numbers are only being seriously discussed four-and-a-half years into the Syrian Civil War as a “humanitarian failure”.

He says people in Ireland have been very supportive to him since he arrived here over a decade ago.

I have lovely neighbours and friends. They are more than willing and happy to help. They are my partners. Is it not a shame that it took politicians in Ireland and Europe more than four years to start talking about numbers?

During the week, the European Commission called for compulsory redistribution of 160,000 migrants across EU member states.

The UN reports that the Syrian Civil War has created four million refugees. Estimates put the number of fatalities at anything from 220,000 to more than 300,000 people.

“There are so many Ghandis out there. We are appealing to people’s hearts,” he says.

syrian woman2 Damascus Gate Aoife Barry / Aoife Barry / /

Ghandi received refugee status within months of arriving here and, after a long legal battle, was granted Irish citizenship in late 2014.

It is one of the best honours not just me but anyone will receive. Irish citizenship is an honour, not an entitlement … I’m very proud of it.

“Many people have this misconception that if you come to Europe you will get everything sorted straight away, your talents and degree will be accepted, but it’s not that simple or easy … It has been a serious struggle.”

Read: ‘If somebody destroyed your house and raped half your family, what would you do?

Confirmed: Ireland will take in 4,000 refugees

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