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Syrian refugees seek new life in US

By Agencies in Amman, Jordan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-04-08 08:07

The first Syrian family to be resettled in the United States under a speeded-up "surge operation" for refugees left Jordan on Wednesday and arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, to start a new life.

Ahmad al-Abboud, who is being resettled with his wife and five children, said he is thankful to Jordan, where he has lived for three years after fleeing Syria's civil war. But the 45-year-old from Homs, Syria, said he was ready to build a better life in the US.

They have been living in Mafraq, north of Amman. Abboud was unable to find work, and the family was surviving on food coupons.

Abboud said he wanted to learn English and find a job to support his family.

A spokeswoman for the social services organization helping resettle the family said they arrived in Kansas City late on Wednesday night.

Since October, 1,000 Syrian refugees have moved to the US from Jordan. US President Barack Obama has set a target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by Sept 30.

A resettlement center opened in Amman in February to help meet that goal, and about 600 people are interviewed every day at the center.

Jordan hosts about 635,000 of the more than 4.7 million Syrians who have registered with the UN refugee agency after fleeing the war. The total number of Syrians in Jordan is more than 1.2 million, including those who arrived before the conflict began in 2011.

Illicit antiquities trade

Meanwhile, Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, said on Wednesday that the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq are netting between $150 million and $200 million a year from illicit trade in plundered antiquities. "Around 100,000 cultural objects of global importance, including 4,500 archaeological sites, nine of which are included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO, are under the control of the IS," he said.

The smuggling of artifacts, Churkin said, is organized by the antiquities division in the group's equivalent of a ministry for natural resources. Only those who have a permit with a stamp from this division are permitted to excavate, remove and transport antiquities.

AP - Reuters

Syrian refugees seek new life in US

Syrian refugee Ahmad al-Abboud waits with his family to board a plane for the United States, under a speeded-up "surge operation", at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday. Raad Adayleh / Associated Press

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