Family separated by war reunited in Kingston after 20 years

A family torn apart by the war in Syria has been reunited through the council’s work to help resettle Syrian refugees.

Dr Shihab Romeed left Syria in 1999, studied for his PhD in Manchester before moving down to London to pursue his career as a dentist. Since moving to the UK Dr Romeed has built a life for himself and has three children. 

From the moment the war started in 2011, Dr Romeed tried to get his family to leave Qamshili in North Eastern Syria to a safer neighbouring country. He said his four sisters had not seen each other for 20 years when they met at Gatwick Airport after being reunited through the programme.

Speaking about the reunion, Dr Romeed said, “It was very emotional seeing them again. It’s very difficult to describe that moment we met. It was frustrating for me being here, safe with a roof over my head and food on my table - and all the time knowing that my family were suffering over there.”

Dr Romeed, who frequently contacted his family while they were in a refugee camp in Iraq, took comfort in the knowledge that they were at least away from the war. Sadly, while at the camp, his youngest sister Bushra and his mother passed away. 

He said, “It was very hard, for me and for my family, for my sisters. We tried everything to give them another chance to get on with their lives. The council was very helpful, always listening and communicating on our behalf with the Home Office and the United Nations.” 

In 2019, Dr Romeed’s four sisters were finally accepted onto the government’s Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme. A moment which changed their lives forever. “It’s been good, great,” Dr Romed said. “They are so close to us now we can have meals together and they can see the children any time. They’re very happy in Kingston. I feel humbled by the support and want to thank the community and council for everything they have done for us.” 

As part of the scheme, Kingston, like other councils across the country, agreed to help 50 refugees. If you have a self contained property to rent and want to help, you can find out more on our Resettlement Scheme webpages.