A Syrian father, ready to resettle with his family in the US, worries about their future following ban on refugees

Khaled Al-Wadi, who has polio, had his hopes set on a new life in the US for himself and his family. Photo by Benoit Almeras/Oxfam

Polio has made life in Jordan’s largest refugee camp even harder for Khaled Al-Wadi.

“I was deeply shocked to hear about this decision that bars my family and me from entering the US. We pinned our hopes on traveling there” said Khaled in a soft but strained voice, sitting in his prefabricated home in Jordan’s biggest refugee camp, Zaatari.

Khaled Al-Wadi, 35, fled with his family from Dera’a in Syria in 2012. Since he arrived in the camp, Khaled’s polio got worse negotiating roads that aren’t paved making it difficult to walk on the rough, uneven ground.

During his first four years in Zaatari, Khaled couldn’t move easily around the camp because of his illness. This changed when he got a bicycle. Now, he is a cash-for-work volunteer in Oxfam’s office at Za’atari where he works in data entry.

Despite these steps in a positive direction, Khaled needs surgery to repair his ankle. He said, “I was about to be resettled to the US, but since [President] Trump’s decision, I am stuck in Za’atari and can’t have the surgery that can improve my life.” In the meantime he must wait in long lines for bread, and has continued difficulty in accessing the services he and his family needs.

Khaled remained unaware of the US resettlement program for a long time. A while ago, he received word that he was eligible for the US program. “I said yes!” he recalled. Khaled, his wife Laila, and their children Hazem, 6, and Rana, 3, whose names have been changed to ensure their safety, went through the lengthy US vetting process and were preparing to travel until word about the executive order banning refugees began to spread. "I didn’t know about this ban until I read the news. Now our hope is gone,” he said.

Everyone forced to flee from conflict, violence, disaster or poverty has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. “I want a decent life, better education for my children, good health insurance, a safe and warm shelter,” said Khaled.

Close to five million Syrian refugees have been forced to leave their homes because of violence, persecution and war, seeking shelter in neighboring countries like Jordan. With Trump slamming the door on refugees, it is up to other states to open their doors to people like Khaled and his family, giving them new hope for their future. 

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