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CNN Reporter Arwa Damon Gives On-Air Lesson In Humanity After Refugee Interrupts Live Broadcast

16/11/2015 15:29 GMT | Updated 16/11/2015 15:59 GMT

A CNN reporter gave an on-air lesson in showing humanity to refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks, which have prompted some politicians and media commentators for EU nations to close their borders.

Arwa Damon was reporting from the Greek island of Leros, a common route for tens of thousands of migrants to enter Europe, including, reportedly, one of the terrorists who attacked Paris on Friday.

A Syrian passport that was used to travel to the island in October was found on one of the dead terrorist after a series of co-ordinated shooting and bombing attacks that killed 129 people, the worst violence in the city since the Second World War.

Speaking to camera, Ms Damon was describing the impossible plight of refugees who are fleeing, saying they were worried about the reception they might get in the wake of the attack.

"This is a very difficult journey for them," she said. She quoted a Syrian father whose home in Aleppo has been destroyed, saying: "What choice do I have? I can't live in Turkey anymore because I can't afford rent and no one will rent to me anyway."

She interrupted her flow to speak, in Arabic, to a little boy who had walked up and stood next to her, smiling. She kept talking to him, pausing only to say "sorry" to camera for turning away.

cnn reporter

The boy seemed happy with the encounter

She placed her hand on his side and asked him where he was going, to which he replied Sweden.

She ushered the boy to continue with his family, at which point he waves to the camera, says 'bye' and walks off.

Ms Damon then resumes her piece to camera, saying: "People are actually in a fairly good mood. They haven't yet registered what potentially this [the Paris attack] is going to mean for them."

She was showered with praise for the kindness she gave the boy, offering a light-hearted moment on an otherwise bleak topic.

Ms Damon, 38, is the daughter of a Syrian mother and grew up speaking Arabic. She sits on the board of the charity INARA, which provides medical care to children from war zones.

Over the weekend Human Rights Watch's Peter Bouckaert said the Syrian passport found on the terrorist could be a fake. He appealed for Europe to not "shut the door" to refugees.

He said: "The answer to the Paris attacks and the possibility that one of the attackers came by rubber dinghy to Greece, where he was registered on Leros Island, is not to shut the door on those desperately fleeing war in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan - including many fleeing from IS.

"The answer is to put in place a coherent EU asylum policy that provides those fleeing war and repression with safe and legal alternatives to get that asylum, without having to risk their lives."

He added: "Replacing the chaos with coherent policies would address both the responsibility to give asylum to those in need, and the security concerns raised by chaotic and uncontrolled flows.

"People fleeing war need refuge. And trying to build fences and stopping them at sea only drives them deeper into the hands of criminal gangs, and drives them underground where there is no control over who comes and goes."

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:

  • 129 dead in co-ordinated shootings and bombings
  • Seven attackers killed with eight suspect on the run
  • France bombs Islamic State capital after terror group claims responsibility
  • Major police operation in Brussels in pursuit of further suspects
  • Brother of suicide attacker released without charge

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