Victoria teen pleas for visa to bring family fleeing war to Canada

CHEK
WatchA 16-year-old boy that has been living in victoria alone, separated from the rest of his family is calling on the federal government. He is pleading for them to grant an emergency visa to his family — as they flee war torn Libya. His sisters are Canadian citizens, but his mom and dad are not. Julian Kolsut reports.

Rami Bariko and others gathered on the lawn of the B.C. Legislature Saturday to call for an emergency visa to be issued to the rest of his family, as he struggles knowing they are in danger.

“I can’t even focus on my study, I cannot, I am always thinking of my sisters, I am always worrying about them… I cannot,” said Rami as he cried.

Rami came back to Canada in September alone. He was born in Canada with his two sisters while his parents were here on a visa from 2002 to 2010. They then went back to what they thought was a more stable Libya, but then 2011 hit.

“At that time, everything was good, but then everything turned very hard, war began the situation’s been very very hard,” said Rami.

“You know no study, no electricity no water sometimes… you can’t even chill with your friend, because anybody can come shoot you … mafia is everywhere.”

After the Arab Spring and Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi’ s toppling and death, a power vacuum left multiple forces are clashing for control, making it unsafe for everyone.

Rami’s family, his father Tawfiq, mother, and three sisters fled to Tunisia — sending their only son to Canada in hopes the whole family could soon join.

“I don’t know why they don’t give them a visa for an emergency, it’s a visor visa for example when they get here they then apply for permanent residence,” said Abdul Fattah, who is watching over Rami until his family returns.

The hope the emergency visa will be granted so the family can reunite quicker. They have a visa pending, but as one friend also from Libya knows, it is a long and painful wait.

“My two kids are Canadian Citizens as well but my wife is not,” said Naser Elzwawi.

“So basically I’m here and I applied, trying to sponsor her and I did all the papers but they told me it will take up to a year…. war and leaving your kids it’s the hardest thing I’ve been through.”

That difficult reality for Rami is now showing at school.

“Normally the topic of conversation with Rami is that he is worried about his sisters who he doesn’t feel are safe,” said Terry O’Flynn, a teacher at Victoria High School.

“He is lonesome for his family…. he is a very brave young man but also not very focused on his studies, which is expected.”

All Rami wants is his family back.

“Just for a normal life, I just want to study well, I wanna be safe in a safe place, that’s all that I need, I wanna be happy and live in a safe place with my family,” said Rami.

*Immigration and citizenship Canada has not yet responded to a request for comment from CHEK News.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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