Kisses through a fence as Syrian family reunites


After more than a year of separation, Syrian refugee Ammar Hammasho was finally, though briefly, reunited with his wife and four children through a chain link fence topped with barbed wire in Cyprus.

Falling to his knees, Mr Hammasho, who is from the war-battered city of Idlib, kissed each of his three older children through the 3m-high barrier encircling a migrant reception centre at Kokkinotrimithia, west of the Cypriot capital, Nicosia.

"The policeman told me to wait for half an hour to finish the count. I couldn't wait, I saw the kids through the fence and I did this," he said, waving his hands over his head. "The kids ran over. I just wanted to see them, for my heart to go back into its place," the construction worker, 34, said on Wednesday. The reunion came on Sunday, just hours after his wife and their children - aged seven, five and four, and the youngest at 18 months - came ashore with 300 other Syrians in north-western Cyprus. They had taken a 24-hour trip in a boat from Mersin in Turkey, in what was one of the largest mass landings on the island since the Syrian war began.

Mr Hammasho knew his family were trying to leave Syria. "When I read on the Internet that about 250 were heading to Cyprus, I knew it was them," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2017, with the headline 'Kisses through a fence as Syrian family reunites'. Print Edition | Subscribe