Luxembourg Published on 21.11.13 10:44

Royals moved by "unimaginable" hardships of refugees

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(CS) Grand Duchess Maria Teresa on Wednesday visited a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey, abandoning official protocol on her way there to speak to a group of people she spotted by the side of the road.

The Grand Duchess asked a man and his wife, who had claimed that they were refugees, where they were going. She was shocked to find out that the pair were en route to a nearby village to fetch their son's "13 or 14-year-old" bride.

"No, you cannot do that to the girl," she said. "She is so young. Wait until she is of age," Maria Teresa said.

A representative of the Turkish government joined the conversation reminding the couple that it is illegal to marry under the age of 18 in Turkey. After some hesitation, the father lifted his hand to his heart and said to the Grand Duchess: "I swear, that we wait for the wedding until the girl is 18."

While the outcome of this story will probably never be known, the Grand Duchess expressed her hope that the man will stick to his promise.

At the Nizip 2 refugee camp, the Grand Duchess witnessed first-hand the hardships faced by Syrians who have fled their country. For example, she met with a 14-year-old girl whose parents were killed in a bomb attack and who managed to bring her younger brother and sister to safety.

Maria Teresa was also happy to announce that Luxembourg will contribute another 500,000 euros to relief efforts, with the Grand Duchy already having given more than seven million euros in aid for Syria.


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