A two-year-old Syrian boy has been reunited with his family in Cyprus after they accidentally left him behind as they fled shelling in Damascus in the summer.
Bushr Al Tawashi’s parents thought their son had died when their house was bombed, but he was found in the rubble of his family home by rebel fighters.
The toddler was taken care of by family friends and after a long legal process his father was able to reunite with his son in Lebanon and take him to Cyprus.
‘You can imagine how they felt when they were told their son was alive after bearing all this guilt thinking that he was dead,’ the family’s lawyer Stella Constantinou said.
In their chaotic haste to escape fighting between government troops and Syrian rebels, Bushr’s father Machhour Al Tawashi and his mother Arin Al Dakkar had assumed the boy was picked up by other members of their extended family who had been staying with them.
Heavy fighting prevented the parents from going back to search for Bushr once they found temporary shelter at a refugee camp and realised that he was missing.
Believing he did not survive the shelling, his parents and their other two sons, aged 4 and 6, arrived in Cyprus in August last year, in search of asylum, two weeks later.
Fortunately, word that their boy was safe eventually reached the parents, who now live in the coastal town of Limassol.
Mr Al Tawashi’s sister, who had joined the family in Cyprus, volunteered to return to Damascus to take care of Bushr until arrangements for his return could be made, Ms Constantinou said.
When Bushr’s parents provided proof that he was their child to the Cypriot Foreign Ministry expedited the process. Bushr’s father then travelled to the Lebanese capital of Beirut where he was reunited with the boy at the Cypriot Embassy and brought Bushr back to the island on Thursday.
‘I can’t describe how I felt when I saw him, just overjoyed at seeing him again,’ Macchour said.
‘At first he didn’t recognize me, but then they embraced and he started calling out “Father, Father”’.
Mr Al Tawashi said although he still has relatives in Syria there’s no way he’ll ever go back.
The sunshine story comes the day after the Syrian government agreed to cease fire during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The ceasefire will see both sides respect the four-day-long religious holiday, which starts today.
General Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s military council, said any ceasefire would be reciprocated, but warned that President Bashar al-Assad’s government had ‘lied many times before’.
Activists say over 35,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s government began in March 2011.