107-year-old Syrian refugee reunited with family - including her great-great-granddaughter


Click to follow
The Independent Online

A 107-year-old great-great-grandmother who fled the conflict in Syria has finally arrived in Germany to be reunited with her family, officials have said.

Reporters were told that Sabria Khalaf arrived in Germany yesterday to a jubilant reception from over 20 family members, including her 33-day-old great-great granddaughter.   

The spritely pensioner fled the conflict in Syria seven months ago, passing through Turkey and into Greece, where she and her son Kenan had already applied for asylum, the DPA news agency reported.

Sabria Khalaf, perhaps the world’s oldest refugee, took to the road last year in a bid to reach her extended family in Germany. After months of living in migrant ghettos in Istanbul, Kenan arranged for a smuggler to steal them through Greece and across the Adriatic to Italy.

Stowed in the engine room Mrs Khalaf and her son were tossed about by violent storms until she lost consciousness. The boat was forced back to Greece where the two travellers have been waiting to enter Germany ever since

A spokesman for the Office for Migrants and Refugees, Christoph Sander, said a decision was made to expedite her transfer to Germany on humanitarian grounds.

The reunion followed an article about Mrs Khalaf, a member of Syria’s Kurdish minority, in Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung earlier this month. The report caused many to petition Prime Minister Joachim Gauck to hasten her repatriation by accelerating the bureaucratic process.

Over 2.5 million refugees, half of whom are children, are thought to have fled Syria since the civil war erupted in April 2011, with many more displaced internally. Only three per cent have sought refuge within the EU.