Local refugee advocates react to military strike against Syria

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On Friday evening, President Donald Trump ordered a military attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad. In conjunction with British and French soldiers, the U.S. military carried out the strikes on three sites, a scientific research center near Damascus and two chemical weapons storage facilities near Homs.

Many here in the metro area have been following this conflict in Syria closely and have strong views on weather or not these strikes will help.

Ann Say is the co-founder of local non-profit Once We Were Refugees (OWWR) which teaches sewing and sewing machine repair to refugees who are living in the metro.

Since the organization was founded a year and a half ago, directors say 67 people have graduated from the program, and practically all have landed jobs using their new skills.

Say said working with refugees has not only touched her life, but it’s also helped shape her views on foreign affairs.

“Once a refugee has a job they are no longer a refugee, and that is our theme,” said Say, quoting Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani Yogurt founder.

She’s worked with refugees for more than 40 years and says after meeting many people from Syria, it’s hard to support the air strikes that occoured on Friday night.

“As we bomb, these cities, I’m thinking today I haven’t talked to the family that we are personally helping, but they are from Homs, Syria and the bombs last night dropped just outside of Homs.

She said what's worse is that some people living there can’t leave and move to safer places.

“In 2016 we had over 3,400 refugees come into the country, and then last year we had about 700 refugees come in and so far, in 2016 we have had 11 Syrian refugees come into the country because Trump has put up barriers to their arrival,” said Say.

While many of her friends and clients are waiting to hear from loved ones at home, she and her husband are doing what they can to provide support.

“That’s really hard, a hug, a warm embrace, a word of encouragement,” said Rev. William Say, OWWR Co-Founder.

Some government officials on the other hand feel the air strikes are warranted.

“Last Saturday, a week ago, up to 75 people were killed in a barbaric attack in Duoma with as many as 500 further casualties all the indications are that this was a chemical weapons attack. A significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian regime is responsible for this latest attack and we know that the Syrian regime has a track record of using chemical weapons against its own people,” said Karen Pierce, UK Ambassador to UN.

Others add, there was no other choice.

"The pictures of dead children were not fake news. They were the result of the Syrian regime's barbaric inhumanity. And they were the result of the regime and Russia's failure to live up to their international commitments to remove all chemical weapons from Syria,” said Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to United Nations.

In a news conference that took place on Saturday morning Pentagon Chief officials said they can’t speculate on what will happen next. The U.S. will remain ready, but future actions, they say are dependent upon Syrian President Bashar Assad.