St Andrews University lecturer reunited with eight family members rescued from Gaza

Peace expert thanks everyone who helped raise £80,000 for evacuation

A Scottish university lecturer has spoken of the joy and relief she felt as eight members of her family were evacuated from war-torn Gaza.

Dr Malaka Shwaikh had raised more than £80,000 to rescue her family from Israel’s bombardment of her homeland thanks to a flood of donations from her students, colleagues and people she has never met before.

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The St Andrews University expert, who teaches peace and conflict studies, was reunited with her two brothers, two of her sisters, a sister-in-law, a nephew and her parents, after they were able to cross the border to Egypt earlier this month.

She told The Scotsman: “The moment I saw my family was really, really joyful. It felt surreal for them to be there, having lived through six months of aggression, of constant violence, and to come out of it, and to be able to see them and to be able to hug them, and be around them. I was relieved.” Dr Shwaikh previously told The Scotsman how she was trying to evacuate her “exhausted and terrified” family after losing four cousins in four separate Israeli air strikes. She set up a crowdfunding page, which was backed by more than £50,000 in just 24 hours, later rising above £80,000.

“We didn’t know how long it would take for them to be fully registered and for their names to be approved for evacuation,” she said. “We had to wait and wait and wait, and nothing was happening. We kept checking names and hoping that they are going to come out soon.

“I was with my family when the names came out, and I remember the feeling was probably like nothing I’ve ever experienced - the relief that finally the names have come out and finally they can travel, and finally they can be safe.”

While eight members of the family were evacuated, several others remain in Gaza.

“The plan is to evacuate one sister and her family soon, and then to evacuate the rest of my family when it becomes possible,” Dr Shwaikh said.

Even for those who have escaped the conflict, their lives have been turned upside down, with their homes lost and career plans in doubt.

Dr Shwaikh, who has highlighted other crowdfunding pages set by by the relatives of people in Gaza, said: “My family and I have been super grateful for all the support that has been given to them from colleagues, students, from friends, from people around on the internet, on the streets, who have been just generous, kind and supportive from day one.

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“To be able to raise at least £50,000 in less than 24 hours has been one big highlight of my life, and of my family’s lives.

“There are a lot of challenges that my family are feeling, and they are fearing as well, just being away. Because they have lost everything in Gaza. They’ve lost their home. They are starting from scratch and in a different country.

“But we are confident that with the support of the community around us, we are going to be OK. So thank you to everyone who has supported us.”



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