George and Amal Clooney recently partnered with the International Rescue Committee to raise awareness about the struggles that Syrian refugees face and sat down with three families now living in Berlin, who recounted the horrors they witnessed in their homeland.
"We couldn't take any more, there was killing and snipers, it became unbearable," one man said in a video that the IRC released Tuesday, timed with the fifth anniversary of the war in Syria.
Another man spoke of the torture he endured while in "political prison," including "electricity" and "hitting." He said he still receives messages on Facebook daily from people threatening to behead him.
"I sat in the corner and I got ready to die," one woman said. "I told [my children] that all I hoped for at that moment was to die by bullets and not be beheaded."
As she told her story, her young daughter sat on the floor weeping.
She even asserted her opposition to the so-called Islamic State, explaining that Syrian people, as well as Muslims in general, are not representative of the terrorist group. "We don't like killing or violence. On the contrary, we suffered violence," she said.
"What is shocking to me is not that it happened, but that it continues to happen and it's been happening for five years," George Clooney said in the video.
These were "people who had normal lives, real lives" back in Syria, he added. "And their worlds were destroyed."
He mentioned his Irish heritage and the difficulties his family initially faced as immigrants in the United States. America is a nation of immigrants, so "being here and talking to you is important in reminding them who we are and who we have always been, which is you," he said.
Amal Clooney also shared her family's story of war and flight. They are Lebanese, she said, and had to escape the violence in her country. They "were lucky enough to be accepted by a European country in 1982 when the violence there was really bad," she said.
“As peace talks hang in the balance, the stories of these families should drive not just humanitarian help, but renewed determination to bring the Syrian war to an end,” David Miliband, president and CEO of the IRC, said in a statement.
The swells of refugees fleeing the Middle East for Europe continue to grow. About 130,000 people made their way into Europe in the first two months of 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Countries have begun shutting their borders in an attempt to stem the uncontrollable flow, causing pressure on medical and government infrastructure in Greece, which is the primary point of arrival.
The country is struggling to cope with the influx. Around 70,000 people arrived through Lesbos in January and February of this year, according to the United Nations refugee agency. That's over 2,000 people per day. At least 12,000 people, including thousands of children, have been stranded in Idomeni, a makeshift tent city near the Greek border with Macedonia.
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