Olive Tree’s Mustapha asks people not to forget plight of Syrian refugees

Mustapha Aboubi with his daughter Aicha at the Olive Tree Restaurant, Castlebar, where people can make donations to the appeal for Syria.

Mustapha Aboubi with his daughter Aicha at the Olive Tree Restaurant, Castlebar, where people can make donations to the appeal for Syria.

It has been almost two years now since Castlebar businessman Mustapha Aboubi, owner of the Olive Tree restaurant at Market Square, launched his appeal for Syria.

Civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule.

Over the intervening four years, an estimated 200,000 people have lost their lives and a further nine million people have been displaced by the bloody conflict.

Behind all of the politics and warring factions, the regular people of Syria have experienced a hellish type of breakdown of life as they knew it.

Mr Aboubi is now re-issuing his appeal to the people of Mayo not to forget the plight of those Syrians.

Mr Aboubi collects clothing, medical supplies, and donations for Syria on behalf of the international charity Human Appeal.

He has travelled to the war torn country and seen firsthand the terrible conditions in the camps.

“They are overcrowded,” he said. “One camp I visited is supposed to accomodate 5,000 people but there are now more than 35,000 people there. In another camp, there is mayhem when a bread lorry comes. People are killing each other for a loaf of bread.

“These were normal people with everyday lives before,” said Mr Aboubi. “But they lost everything when the war broke out and now they are living in a camp, queuing and fighting for a loaf of bread.”

Mr Aboubi, who is originally from Algeria but has lived in Ireland for more than 15 years now, said it was difficult to return to his everyday life after experiencing the situation in the Syrian refugee camps.

“It is like you are moving between two different worlds,” he explained. “You think to yourself that you have just come back from hell. In your mind there are all of those people who can’t just return from it to their normal lives. Syria has been absolutely devastated by this conflict.”

Mr Aboubi said he was determined to continue working to help the people of Syria in any way he could.

Donations can be dropped off at the Olive Tree in Castlebar. Items required include clean clothing, blankets, shoes, and desperately needed medical supplies of any kind, such as crutches or wheelchairs. Alternatively, cash donations are also greatly appreciated as it takes €4,000 to deliver a container to Syria once it is filled.

Mr Aboubi said Human Appeal works with a reputable charity within Syria to ensure the supplies are reaching the people who need them most.

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