Refugee mothers beg British women not to travel to Syria

Three mothers who are refugees from Syria have warned British women thinking of travelling to their country of the dangers of living in the war-torn nation. The video, a collaboration between the Metropolitan Police and Families Against Stress and Trauma (FAST) documents three women – Fatten, Isaaf and Zakka – explaining why they left Syria, and warning others not to go. 

The film's release comes after new figures show that 56 women and girls were reported missing to the police in 2015 who are thought to have travelled to Syria. 

"We were living under very bad circumstances and it was getting worse by the day," said Fatten of her time in Syria. "My son couldn't get the medical treatment he urgently needed." "Your children are now living in security (in Britain), are provided with schools, a nice life and beautiful future. So why are you taking them to a war zone?" said Isaaf. 

Zakka added that Syria is "the wrong place to bring up children." The video is particularly aimed at mothers after a survey conducted last year showed that 66 per cent of 11-25 year olds said they would speak to their mother if they believed someone they knew was being radicalised, or they themselves were considering travelling to join an extremist group. 

The counter-terror office has said it hopes the video will encourage women to be aware of particular signs of radicalisation, and emphasised the importance of the role of mothers in preventing young people from being radicalised. 

"We are deeply concerned about the numbers of girls, young women and also families who are taking the decision to go to Syria, unaware of the dangers they face when they arrive and the fact that they are unlikely to ever be able to return home to their devastated wider families," deputy assistant commissioner Helen Ball said. 

"The personal accounts of the women in this film highlight the harsh reality of life for women and children living in a war-torn country. I hope they will go some way to helping young women and mothers stop and think about the huge mistake they would be making if they travel." 

Speaking to the BBC, Isaaf said: "My message to young women is think about yourself, and your future, rather than go to Syria and face arrest, torture, or even death. "Build your future here where you have freedom and opportunity." 

by Florence Taylor
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