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Family who fled war for Merseyside built successful business

By Benjamin Roberts-Haslam

A Syrian family that moved to Merseyside in 2017 now has a successful business with two shops in the city centre.

Tahsen Abbar fled his native Syria in 2014 with his family and went to Lebanon after war broke out in the country in 2011. Tahsen, 38, has lived in Bootle for five years and owns two tech shops in Liverpool City Centre.

The dad-of-three told the ECHO that he first built a computer almost 20 years ago and has since expanded his knowledge of technology to the point where he now deals with computer, tablet and phone repairs along with his brother Mohammad Abbar. The two stores, one on London Road and one that has recently opened on the corner of Dale Street and Moorfields, are thriving as Tahsen steadily saved up and started the business after arriving on Merseyside without being able to speak English.

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He told the ECHO: "I left Syria in 2014, the war started in 2011, and in those three years it was not safe. I saw many things. It's a bad government. Before the war there were 23 million people living there, now there are just 18 million.

"There are around four million in jail and two million people have been killed because they don't like the government. There is no freedom of speech. Now my country is so bad. I can't explain it. There's no money, coronavirus, it's very bad."

Tahsen was able to settle in with his wife Shefaa Ziadeh, 29, son Abdul Malik, six, and daughter Rawda, nine, before they had their second daughter Mariam who is now three years old. When Tahsen settled he then managed to welcome his brother and two sisters into the country.

Mohammad, 29, and sisters Fatema, 31, and Somaya, 42, shortly followed, with them just living a short journey from Tahsen's home. Despite their success since moving to the country, it wouldn't have unfolded the way it has if it wasn't for Munzi Ali of the Sefton Multicultural Centre.

Munzi plays a key part in the south Sefton Islamic community and helps refugees settle into the country when they are first granted asylum in the UK. Munzi, along with guidance from the Liverpool Region Mosque Network, was able to support Tahsen and his family.

He told the ECHO: "It gives me encouragement to carry on doing this work, especially seeing where Tahsen is and other people as well. We've helped a family from Afghanistan as well and just seeing how desperate they are when they first arrive.

"For us, we take freedom for granted but we recently helped a gentleman who didn't want to step outside the house because he was so scared. For them to see a welcoming face, it really does make a difference.

"We distribute food as well through a food bank and it's the reaction you get. I delivered some food to an older couple and they literally hugged me. It was quite touching to think how lucky we are when there are people like that who are struggling."

Tahsen added: "The centre has been very important, why? because when we moved here I didn't have anything. I didn't have food, money, anything. I needed somebody to look after us. Munzi is my family. Not only is he We have a really strong community in the area. In Crosby, I see other people like Munzi and they are my family."

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