On January 24th, 2017 the WACQC welcomed more than 150 people, as our speaker, the highly respected QC pediatrician Dr. Majdi Omar, shared his insights into the situation in Syria, that created the worst refugee crisis of our time.
Dr. Omar started his presentation with shocking facts and statistics. As of 2016, the UN identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance – people with physical and mental wounds, terrified, separated from their families, suffering from malnutrition, the cold, illnesses and violence. The war in Syria has forced millions of people from their homes – part of them have become displaced internally, some have fled to the neighboring countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, while others have sought asylum in Europe. Thousands have lost their lives on their journeys, survivors speak about violence and abuse by people traffickers. In the seeming safety of the refugee camps people are still confronted with grave problems – lack of food and clean water, over-crowded shelters, deficient medical care, security issues, etc.
Dr. Omar focused on massive health problems that arise in the refugee camps. Among the most common health threats, he mentioned malnutrition, infectious diseases, dermatologic conditions, chronic illnesses and physical traumas. He pointed out that the lack of medical supplies and medications exacerbate the situation of people who already had health problems or lifelong disabilities and may be unable to continue receiving the care and accommodations that they need. Having being exposed to extreme psychological traumas, many people develop mental disorders, such as PTSD, depression and anxiety and are in need of psychosocial support. As an example, Dr. Omar spoke of the impact of the art therapy – children, when given crayons and paper, would express themselves in drawings and desperately want these art materials.
Dr. Omar’s outlook is rather pessimistic, because the war has destroyed huge portions of the infrastructure of the cities and disrupted farming, creating a massive crisis. Many of the refugees have nothing to go back to, the war continues and there is no reasonable forecast that once it is over Syria will be quickly rebuilt.
Dealing with the crisis requires combined efforts of the world community. Dr. Omar named the following organizations, which are involved in refugee relief work: SAMS, SCM, United Nations, Unicef and Islamic Relief USA. Their activities include working on providing water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as malnutrition treatment and immunizations. You can get involved, too! Some of the ways to provide support to Syrian refugees are to donate, to volunteer or to raise awareness about the crisis.
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