Inside Syria: 'I have seen people's hands and feet being cut off before they were slaughtered'

Newstalk's Shona Murray spoke to Radi Sulleiman who recently fled Raqqah

The world is facing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War as new figures, released on World Refugee Day, indicate that over 60 million people are now displaced from their homes.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) say it is the highest-ever recorded level, with conflict, persecution and lack of political solutions a major factor in the increase in numbers.

Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia accounted for more than half of the world's refugees, with displacement figures rising 50% since 2011, the year the Syrian conflict began.

Newstalk's Shona Murray spent a few days in Lebanon speaking with people who have recently fled Syria.

Radi Sulleiman is from Raqqa, the capital of the so-called Islamic State (IS). 

She escaped from Syria with her nine children, however one of her sons is presently detained by IS and there is no indication as to what might happen to him.

Speaking on 'Newstalk Breakfast' this morning Shona explained that Radi is lucky as it's very difficult to get into Lebanon now as a refugee. All of the borders are closed, except for very precarious illegal routes that are heavily defended by the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah.

Radi told Shona about some of the things she horrific things she witnessed while in Syria.

She has seen people's hands and feet being cut off before they were slaughtered. She said they then take the bodies and put them on bridges and in public places where everyone can see them.

Radi said children are often exposed to slaughtered bodies and as a result she believes they now have "evil in their hearts".

She also described the treatment of women by members of IS: "If they see a woman, all they have to do is put their hand over her head and say 'you are mine' and then he can rape her or sleep with her."

News reports over the past few weeks have spoken about renewed efforts from the international community to target IS in Syria and Iraq, particularly after the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Shona explained that there are two offensives currently being carried out in Iraq - one in Fallujah and another in Mosul.

In three days alone 80,000 people were displaced in Fallujah due to the conflict.

Civilians who are fleeing the area say the coalition airstrikes are having very limited results.

Radi says that it is mainly the civilians who suffer as violence continues once the airstrikes stop. 

She also reckons that only 5% of the targets are hit, and it is mainly civilian homes that are being destroyed.

Radi also spoke about her dream to go to Europe with her children to live, and to hopefully be settled near other Syrians who speak her language.

She added that she doesn't want to be "smuggled" out and want "to go a legal way through the UN."

She also explained her dislike for the term 'refugee': "We ran away from the terror. We have to be here because it's a safe place, but we are not refugees."

You can listen back to the full interview here: