Syrian refugee in NZ recalls massacre

Nazeh Diab
Nazeh Diab

The Syrian refugee crisis appears to be getting worse, with thousands of people flooding into Europe.

Nizah Diab is one Syrian refugee who has already made it out of the country and into New Zealand.

Mr Diab now lives in the Wellington suburb of Strathmore, but he told 3 News of a massacre he witnessed before fleeing the country.

He recalled the incident while watching a YouTube video of cellphone footage. He says the massacre took place 50 metres from his home and up to 400 people were killed.

"The truth is worse than the pictures," he says.

"It's really hard because many of them, I know them – most of them are children."

It started with protests against Syria's President, Bashar al-Assad. An anti-government protester was killed and the massacre took place during his funeral procession.

The Assad regime used it as a target, firing two missiles into the crowd.

Mr Diab was not involved; he was at home with his family.

"I need to do something, anything. I walked to the streets again and I found a few children without arms, without legs.

"I cannot look at this much of blood, somebody without arms and without legs. He [is] asking you for help. How can I help? What can I do for him?"

Mr Diab says the massacre was covered up by the Assad regime and has never been reported by Western media.

Only in New Zealand does he feel safe to speak out.

"The witnesses [are] still afraid until now to say the truth," he says.

There have been 7000 government airstrikes during the Syrian civil war and 250,000 deaths in the four-year conflict.

In the first six months of this year alone, President Assad's forces killed almost 7900 people – far more than the Islamic State's 1131 victims.

And Mr Diab is in no doubt that it is President Assad who is causing Syria's exodus.

"We must remove [him] if we want to stop the refugee river who comes from Syria," he says.

"He has to go. He has to leave right now."

Until then, he says Wellington is home.

"It's really beautiful, but a little windy."

3 News