Refugee mum moves delegates to tears

Wigan-based refugee Eman Mashhour
Wigan-based refugee Eman Mashhour

A WIGAN-based refugee brought delegates close to tears at a major human rights conference.

Eman Mashhour, who now lives in Marsh Green, told Amnesty International’s North West Regional meeting the harrowing story of how she was forced to leave her home country of Yemen.

The mother of three grown-up children has lived with them in Wigan since 2013, having fled persecution in the Middle Eastern state of her birth.

Speaking after her workshop session, the former English teacher explained: “As a woman from the South of Yemen, a country dominated by Northern males, and a human rights activist who campaigned against child marriage, FGM and human trafficking I was always discriminated against.

“But I experienced far worse when I started working for the International Organization for Migrants (IOM).

“I was helping to trace trafficked migrants and return them to their homes.

“But the traffickers caught up with me, threatened to kill me and harmed my son.

“So I did not come to the UK for a better life, I came for a safer life.”

Eman had encouraged the Amnesty delegates to think closely about the attitudes shown to refugees to the UK, both for and against.

She insisted: “People who are against refugees simply do not understand who we are.

“Like me, refugees have lost their jobs, homes, families, friends and culture.

“And we need the support of the media to help them understand the issues and challenges we face, to tell our stories and report them in a neutral, unbiased way.”

Eman is now slowly settling down to a new life in the North West with her three children.

She has recently been allowed to start looking for work but, like many refugees, is finding that her qualifications and experience are not recognised in this country.

However she is currently volunteering for The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace in Warrington as a learning associate to support the Women Building Peace project.