Syrian family resettles in Jersey City

A family that fled Syria in 2013 and crossed the desert with two young children is now living in Jersey City.

A family that fled Syria in 2013 and crossed the desert with two young children is now living in Jersey City. (9/21/15)

JERSEY CITY - A family that fled Syria in 2013 and crossed the desert with two young children is now living in Jersey City.

Hussam Al Roustom, his wife Suha and their children fled the violent civil war in their native country.

The family had owned a home and a supermarket in the Syrian city Homs.

They left through the desert and arrived at a refugee camp in Jordan before an international aid organization helped them arrive in New Jersey last June.

The children, a 7-year-old boy with autism and a 3-year-old girl, are adjusting to their new life in America, but Al Roustom says the children have been traumatized by war.

"If they see police in the streets they get so scared," Al Roustom says. "If they hear the sirens of an ambulance or the sirens of the police, they get really scared."

The Church World Service, a resettlement agency, helped find them an apartment. The group also helps refugees find employment and learn English.

"We do the apartment setup, we have groceries in their refrigerator, we have a meal ready for them after they arrive from the airport," says Mahmoud Mahmoud, the director of Church World Service's Jersey City branch.

An estimated 4 million people have fled the violence in Syria so far. Just 1,500 have been resettled into the United States.

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