Syrian families reunite under Malaysia's refugee plan

Syrian hairstylists Mohamed Ibrahim (back row, third from left) and Ali Abdul Naser (back row, fourth from left) with their families who arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday from Turkey. The families are the first batch of Syrians who are in Malaysia a
Syrian hairstylists Mohamed Ibrahim (back row, third from left) and Ali Abdul Naser (back row, fourth from left) with their families who arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday from Turkey. The families are the first batch of Syrians who are in Malaysia as part of the government's plan to take in 3,000 refugees over three years to help ease the migrant crisis.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has welcomed its first batch of Syrian migrants as part of its plan to take in 3,000 refugees from Syria over three years to help ease the migrant crisis.

The group of eight Syrians, comprising two families, flew in from Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday into the arms of their waiting kin at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Hairstylist Mohamed Ibrahim, 29, who has been in Malaysia since 2012, said he was grateful that his parents, brother and sister were safe in Malaysia now, The Star reported.

"Our house was destroyed in the war. I was worried something might happen to my family if they remained in Idlib city (in north-western Syria)," he said.

Like Mr Mohamed, Mr Ali Abdul Naser, 30, successfully applied to the Malaysian government to accept his family. "I cannot believe that they are here after just a month. I am very happy that they are here with me," Mr Ali was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insider news site. "At least we are all safe now. We can look forward to rebuilding our lives here," said Mr Ali, 30, also a hairstylist. "I consider Malaysia my second home."

But he hoped they could go home once there is peace in his homeland.

More than four million people have fled Syria's brutal civil war and more than seven million others are displaced within the country.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Syrian families reunite under Malaysia's refugee plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe