Father's plea over boy in Syria

The Oxford Times: The father of six-year-old British boy Muadh Zain, who is trapped in Syria, has launched an impassioned plea for the Government to help him escape the conflict (Family handout/PA) The father of six-year-old British boy Muadh Zain, who is trapped in Syria, has launched an impassioned plea for the Government to help him escape the conflict (Family handout/PA)

The father of a six-year-old British boy trapped in Syria has launched an impassioned plea for the Government to help him escape the bloody conflict "before it is too late".

Birmingham-born Muadh Zain has seen his uncle killed by shrapnel, his town reduced to rubble, and scores of locals slaughtered by bombs during the three years he has been stuck inside the rebel-stronghold city of Daraa.

His father, City worker Wael Zain, said his son is so traumatised by the horrors he has stopped speaking and clings to his mother, too frightened to leave her side.

Mr Zain, who works for financial services giant Allianz in London's Canary Wharf, says he has begged the Foreign Office to intervene and get his son out of the war zone, but claims his pleas have fallen on deaf ears because the boy's mother is Syrian.

He said: "My son is a British child. The Government has a real responsibility to act, but they aren't.

"I wake up each day fearing the worst. I'm taking every hour as it comes, but I just don't know what is going to happen. It is so unpredictable.

"I want my son to be safe. I don't want him to be flown home in a coffin."

Muadh spent the first years of his life in Birmingham, but moved to Syria with his mother Doha three and a half years ago after his parents split up.

Mr Zain, 30, said the move was only meant to be temporary, but civil war broke out in 2011 and as the violence quickly escalated they were unable to escape.

The years inside the war-zone have taken their toll on his blonde-haired son. He has developed a squint in his right eye which doctors say requires urgent medical treatment, but his father fears the psychological trauma will leave the deepest scars.

He said: "He is absolutely traumatised. The last time I was able to speak to him directly was four months ago. Every day that passes the situation grows more chaotic.

"At the moment they are staying in an open field under some olive trees. They fled their home after heir neighbour's house was struck by a bomb. If you are staying under a roof it is only a matter of luck if you are struck by a bomb or not.

"He has seen his favourite uncle get struck by shrapnel and it literally split his head and face in half. He has seen so many horrors."

Daraa is just a 15-minute drive away from the border with Jordan, but it is closed.

Mr Zain is calling on the Foreign Office to persuade the Jordanian authorities to reopen the crossing and allow Muadh and his mother to cross and then travel on to Britain.

He said: "They are literally a 15-minute drive to the Jordanian border. They are a short drive away from safety."

He added: "No child should have to live through the destruction and violence my son is seeing. William Hague and the Foreign Office must speak out now to bring Muadh home to safety where he can see his doctor."

More than 2,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Foreign Secretary William Hague to do everything in his power to bring Muadh home.

A spokesman said the Foreign office is aware of the situation and offering advice and assistance to the family.

He said: "The British Government is no longer represented in Syria. The UK Border Agency is therefore unable to accept visa applications in country. Visa applicants should apply in Lebanon or Jordan.

"For some years FCO travel advice has advised against all travel to Syria, and all UK consular services in Syria were suspended some time ago. Our ability to assist British nationals is becoming more and more limited as the war continues. We continue to advise all British nationals in Syria to leave by whatever means."

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