Syrian Refugees Arrive in Columbus, Meet Family For First Time


In Port Columbus Airport, Friday, Ayman Refai anxiously waited for people he’s never met.

“No, I don’t even know them,” he said. “He was born after I came to this country.”

That was 27 years ago.

Since then, much has changed in his home country of Syria including a civil war that involves anti-government protesters and ISIS. The conflict has forced millions of Syrians from their homes.

After fleeing Syria, Refai’s third cousin, Radwan, his wife Gacqueline and their two children have been living in Jordan the past two years while actively going through the process to come to America. With Refai as a translator, Radawn remembers living in his war-torn homeland.

“Mainly from the bombing,” he said. “You would sit in your house and, unexpectedly, there are bombs and airplanes. It’s scary.”

He also remembers the day he decided to leave.

“I just took my kids and left,” Radawn said.

Two years later they find themselves in Columbus, Ohio.

According to Community Refugee and Immigration Services there have been less than 100 Syrian refugees brought to Ohio in the last few years and only 20 in Columbus.

“I came here to the freedom country and I’m comfortable,” Radawn said.

Embracing peace and embracing family.

“I feel safe to raise my kids here,” Gacqueline said.

“I’ve been so happy,” Refai said. “I don’t have any family here. This is the closest I have.”

Refai says it was something worth waiting for.

“Not just because of our relatives, but because it’s a Syrian family,” he said. “They escaped death and they just have a new life.”

According to Angela Plummer with Community Refugee and Immigration Services, the Refai family will be in the United States legally for one year as refugees.

After that, they will be allowed to file for a Green Card and after four years will be able to apply for permanent citizenship.