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Syrian refugee hails ‘beautiful life’ in UK after fleeing war zone

The 18-year-old has thanked British authorities for their support and urged them to continue providing a safe haven for others.

A Syrian refugee who was brought to the UK from Calais a year ago under the scheme lobbied for by Lord Alf Dubs has thanked the Government for his new start.

Ishmael, who fled Syria in 2015 aged 15, spent more than a year in the Jungle migrant camp across the Channel, along with thousands of others hoping for a new start in the UK.

He estimates he made more than a hundred attempts to get into the country by lorry and boat, before becoming one of 200 vulnerable children to be transferred in October last year when the camp was demolished.

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Joely Richardson and Lord Dubs attend an event in London last year to welcome the arrival of the first child refugees from Calais (Stefan Rousseau)

Almost a year to the day that he arrived in England, the 18-year-old has thanked British authorities for their support and urged them to continue providing a safe haven for others.

He said: “My message is just to be thankful for the British Government.

“The help they provide us is like…we cannot imagine, it’s really important for us, so I want them to do this same experience with other people, to look after other people, because they built our lives again so that’s really important for me to say thanks for them and to try the same experience again.”

The-then 17-year-old was bussed to the UK on October 25 along with hundreds of other children under the so-called Dubs Amendment aimed at helping vulnerable lone child refugees on mainland Europe.

Now he is living with a foster family in north London and doing a foundation year at Birkbeck, University of London, to prepare for undergraduate studies in politics and international relations.

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A view of the site where up to 8,000 migrants lived in a camp dubbed "The Jungle' (Joe Giddens/PA)

He is excited about working for a career in politics.

A year on from his life-changing journey, he will be reunited with some of the other teenagers who were taken to safety from the camp, for a public thank you.

Ishmael and other refugees, accompanied by campaigners from Safe Passage and Help Refugees, will present a plaque to Parliament on Tuesday, which will be accepted by Lord Dubs, the scheme’s architect.

The inscription reads: “We thank the British people and Parliament for giving us peace.

“We found a beautiful life in the UK, so different to the life we fled. We were suffering, but now we are safe.”

Ishmael said: “For Syrian people, we lost our country, we lost our safety, we lost everything, and it’s really important for the UK Government to try to give us a home, a safe life, it’s really important for these people to try to help bring people here because they have nothing, the Syrian people, to do now, without any country and they need someone to look after them after all that.”

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