107-year-old Syrian refugee reunited with family in Germany
107-year-old Syrian Sabria Khalaf, right, is greeted by a family member as she arrives at the airport in Duesseldorf, Germany, Monday, March 17, 2014. The woman who fled the conflict in Syria has been reunited with her family in Germany. German officials say Khalaf arrived from Greece where she had originally applied for asylum. (AP / dpa, Federico Gambarini)
The Associated Press
Published Monday, March 17, 2014 3:31PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 17, 2014 3:58PM EDT
BERLIN -- A 107-year-old woman who fled the conflict in Syria has arrived in Germany to be reunited with her family, including her newborn great-great-granddaughter, officials said Monday.
Sabria Khalaf had fled her home in Syria seven months ago with her son Kenan, travelling to Turkey and then on to Greece, the dpa news agency reported.
Khalaf was greeted by about 20 members of her family, including grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her 33-day-old great-great-granddaughter, according to dpa.
Under European Union rules refugees have to apply for asylum in the first member state they reach, putting a heavy burden on Mediterranean nations like Greece, where Khalaf had spent the last two months.
A spokesman for the Office for Migrants and Refugees, Christoph Sander, said a decision was made to expedite Khalaf's transfer to Germany on humanitarian grounds.
The move followed an article about Khalaf, a member of Syria's Kurdish minority, in Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung earlier this month. The report caught the attention of a lawmaker who urged German President Joachim Gauck to intervene on her behalf and expedite the bureaucratic process, dpa reported.
Germany has committed to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees, the highest number of any European country.
According to the United Nations, some two million Syrians have sought refuge abroad -- mostly in neighbouring countries -- since the conflict began three years ago. That number could double by the end of the year, the global body has warned.