Tuesday, Mar 19, 2019
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Syrian families find themselves in limbo after fleeing war

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Lona Lakatos, of Social Services for the Arab Community, left, speaks with Dr. Gigi Sankary, center, about medical documentation for her husband Dr. Fahed Martini, at their home in West Toledo.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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Lona Lakatos, of Social Services for the Arab Community, left, speaks with Dr. Gigi Sankary, center, about medical documentation for her husband Dr. Fahed Martini, right. Though the debate on the screening process used to vet Syrian refugees has intensified, many Syrians have been forced to seek asylum in other ways as the war in their country continues.

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Dr. Gigi Sankary shares a photograph of her two daughters, who remain in Turkey, as Dr. Sankary discusses her family's flight from Syria.

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Dr. Gigi Sankary and Dr. Fahed Martini tear up as they speak about their flight from Syria and their two daughters, both of whom are in Turkey, from their home in West Toledo.

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Though Dr. Sankary is an American citizen, she was able to bring only her husband and their son, who was 17 at the time, to Ohio. Because their daughters are older than 18, they were prevented from coming to the U.S. as well, and remain in Turkey.

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Ahmad Abbas, left, and his parents Amal, 70, center, and Adib, 80, were forced to relocate to Toledo once the war in Syria broke out.

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Ahmad Abbas has applied for asylum, but Ahmad's Syrian passport has expired. His wife remains in Syria, and Ahmad says he can hear the sound of planes often when the speak on the phone.

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Mr. Abbas has applied for asylum but says the process has been slow. His wife remains in Syria.

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Dr. Mahmoud Dabbous, center, laughs as he and other local residents, including Dr. Gigi Sankary, left, and Ahmad Abbas, right, all originally from Syria celebrate together at the IHOP on Talmadge Road in West Toledo. A group of about 20 local residents, including many Syrian expatriates, meet weekly to get to know one another over coffee. Often they stay for hours, sometimes into the early morning, catching up with their new neighbors as they build community. On this particular Tuesday, the group was celebrating Dr. Dabbous' news: he was cleared the begin the processes of certification to practice medicine in the U.S. Dr. Dabbous is general practitioner and Dr. Sankary is a dentist. The war has also divided families; Dr. Dabbous' family continue to live in Syria, Dr. Sankary's two adult daughters are stranded in Turkey and Mr. Abbas' wife remains in Damascus.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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Ismail and Nahed are a Syrian husband and wife living safely in Toledo with their three children, but fearing for their families who remain in Syria the couple asked their their last name and their faces not be shown. Ismail was forced to flee Syria as the war intensified, coming to the U.S. on a tourist visa in May of 2012 before applying for asylum. Nahed and their three children lived in Egypt, separated from Ismail for more than three years before they were able to join him in 2014. Now, the couple are on the path to American citizenship and happy to be together. Ismail said that he had originally hoped to return to Syria, but as the war drags on, "It's a big dream and it's getting smaller every day."

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