LONDON: A Syrian doctor who narrowly avoided deportation from the UK has volunteered to administer COVID-19 vaccines after receiving permission to stay in the country.
Dr. Bashar Al-Hana had been living in the northern English town of Darlington for two years after fleeing war-torn Syria.
The Home Office had intended to deport Al-Hana, 36, back to Poland — his first point of entry to Europe — but his flight was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.
Now, after winning a legal battle over his right to remain in the UK for five years, he has volunteered his expertise to help with the country’s vaccination drive.
“It will be a nice opportunity to get into the hospital environment,” he told the Northern Echo newspaper. “It is a very, very important job and I am lucky.”
He is also waiting to take the UK’s General Medical Council exams, which would allow him to work as a doctor in Britain.
Al-Hana praised those who had helped him in the year since the planned deportation, including the charity Darlington Assistance for Refugees and his local MP Peter Gibson, who said the Syrian “qualified as a doctor when the civil war broke out and is a man with medical expertise and knowledge. It struck me that this was someone who I needed to give as much help to as I could because he’s exactly the sort of person we want to stay in this country and help our NHS (National Health Service).”
Gibson added: “I see no conflict in the country having a robust, clearly articulated policy to control immigration, and helping people fleeing persecution and those who are able to contribute to our society.”
Al-Hana’s entire family opposed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule and were forced to flee the country when the war broke out.
“The regime wants to stay in power and we didn’t want that,” he said. “We were giving medication and bandages to our injured people, that’s all, and we were accused of undermining the current government.”
He added: “We were told that because they were fighting we should let them die. Now we are wanted there.”