Houston brothers start group to help Syrian refugees escape violence

A pair of Houston brothers have started a group to help Syrian refugees, including their own family members, escape the violence .

September 11, 2013 3:38:24 PM PDT
The crisis in Syria really hits home for one Houston family. So much so, they've started a group to help Syrian refugees, including their own family members, escape the violence.

The brothers say they couldn't just sit back and watch as their homes were destroyed. According to the United Nations, 4 million Syrians have been displaced since this war began.

These are the 25,000 men, women, and children who live in the Olive Tree Camp on the border of Syria and Turkey as refugees.

"Some of them had to leave their Houses because it was destroyed by the Syrian regime. Some of them had to leave because there is no food or water or basic necessities," said the camp's founder, 34-year-old Yakzan Shishakly.

Shishakly is in Syria right now, but he grew up in Houston. He even owned a business here until last year. Now he and his brother Omar, a local dietician, are dedicated to helping the displaced.

"On a human level, it's your responsibility and your duty to try and save innocent people," Omar said.

The United Nations estimates four million Syrians have lost their homes since the civil war began. Another two million have fled the country.

And as the U.S. considers military strikes against the Syrian government. Some experts doubt life with change anytime soon for these refugees.

"Living in a refugee camp, no matter how bad the conditions are, is a lot better than going home to a city where your home is completely leveled and destroyed," said Andrew Bowen, an expert in Middle East affairs.

"All this humanitarian aid and all that is a Band-Aid. We need a solution for the problem, we need peace," Omar said.

The brothers say they plan to continue their humanitarian work no matter what happens next.

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