The Syrian boy who stopped growing & the EU country giving him hope

The Syrian boy who stopped growing & the EU country giving him hope

This is Omar.

He fled Idlib in Syria with his parents, two sisters and brother, two and a half years ago, and since then they have been living as refugees in Lebanon, where the family grew with the birth of his youngest brother.

Although he looks around four years old, Omar is actually seven. He has a dysfunctional pituitary gland that means he has stopped growing for three years.

He was being treated in Syria before the country’s civil war broke out but treatment in Lebanon was too expensive for his family, or even aid agencies to afford. Without treatment, Omar will quite literally never grow up.

Eujin Byun of the UNHCR, the UN’s refugees agency, first met him this February.

When asked about his memories of life in Syria all he could remember was the death of his uncle Ahmed.

“He was hit with three bullets. One in his leg, one in his back, one in his shoulder,” he said. “Then a lot of blood came out.”

Ms Byun told that Omar doesn’t really understand his hormone deficiency.

"He thinks he is just smaller than his friends and he believes that if he eats a lot he will grow,” she said.

In the months since February Ms Byun put Omar and his family forward for resettlement on medical grounds.

In the past few days they have found out that their application has been successful in Finland, where Omar can receive medical treatment and he, and his brothers and sisters, can be educated.

Omar and his family are due to leave soon, and are already learning the language and culture of their adopted country.

"Omar is worrying about the flight, it will be his first time to fly. But he also told me he's very happy to go to school and asked me to visit him one day,” Ms Byun added.

Find out more about Omar in this video, filmed in May.

More: [Everyone should read this heart-breaking letter from a Syrian refugee]2

More: [Lebanon to Syrian refugees: Sorry, we're full]3

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