Tag Archives: syria refugees

Syrian refugees in Jordan: huge strain on medical services

A Syrian refugee receives medical care from Doctor Joseph Shnoudi at a Caritas  Community Centre in Amman, Jordan. Credits: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

A Syrian refugee receives medical care from Doctor Joseph Shnoudi at a Caritas Community Centre in Amman, Jordan. Credits: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

With his final Syria Crisis blog, Caritas Scotland-SCIAF’s Media Officer Val Morgan tells the story of the Caritas doctors dealing with the physical impact of the war

It was heartening to hear that the first thing he became aware of after his home was hit by a bomb was his daughter crying – she was alive.

Initially Nidal had been knocked unconscious whilst he took shelter with his family and neighbours from the bombardment taking place in his suburb of Damascus. Three died in the attack. Nidal was taken to a hospital with severe leg injuries. After three days the hospital came under attack and was eventually destroyed – thankfully Nidal and his family had narrowly escaped again.

I met Nidal in a hospital in Amman, Jordan, where Caritas runs a range of medical services in association with the Italian Hospital. Here, Caritas Jordan provides primary care including an initial medical assessment, treatment and medicine. Secondary healthcare is also provided including referrals to other services and supporting in-patients, for instance, by paying the costs of their medical care.

Cartas Jordan uses the Italian Hospital and four others across the country, together with five migration centres, to provide direct humanitarian aid such as food, cloths, blankets, stoves and fuel. But the increasing demand being placed on Jordan’s healthcare system by the influx of refugees is placing huge strain on services.

Suhad Zarafili of Caritas Jordan told me, “The healthcare system is now very over-crowded. We did not expect to have the high number of Syrian refugees that we have. When we have seen such high demand we have had to establish a new medical centre here in Amman.”

Caritas Jordan has seen a six-fold increase in Syrians needing medical attention in recent months. Dr Khalid Shammas, the Director of the Italian Hospital told me:

“We are used to working with refugees since the Iraq conflict, but the Syrian situation is much worse. I believe the Syrian war will continue to run for several years and the impact on Jordan with last for 20years. The Syrian refugees have lost everything and have nothing to go back to.

“There are more people being referred to us all the time. They have a greater need for medical help, and there’s also more wounded. To deal with the great number of people with diseases related to poverty and war is extremely challenging. We are not used to dealing with this amount of people.

“We also have to deal with people affected by war trauma, those who have lost relatives, and everything they know. We need to treat everything, from the psychological to the physical.”

Thanks to Caritas Jordan and its partners, many thousands of Syrian refugees have received urgent medical care and humanitarian aid at this difficult time.

The demands on the county’s health system and wider society continue to mount, but it would be much worse without the love, care and practical support being provided by the Caritas family.

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Filed under Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in Syria, Jordan, Middle East & North Africa, Peacebuilding, Refugees, Syria

A spark of hope for Syrian mothers in Jordan

Syrian refugee children in Jordan recieve counseeling and education help thanks to Caritas. Credit: Caritas Jordan

Syrian refugee children in Jordan recieve counseeling and education help thanks to Caritas. Credit: Caritas Jordan

By Dana Shahin, Caritas Jordan

Hanan Yousef Abdel-Razaq lost her home and a four-year old daughter during an attack on Dara’a in Syria in January. She fled to Jordan with her two remaining children, sons aged five and three.

Hanan is one of the over half a million Syrian refugees now living in Jordan because it’s too dangerous to remain in Syria where a bloody civil war is raging into its third year. The refugees come with nothing, and need food, shelter, education and healthcare.

One in eight Syrian refugees in Jordan are women or children.

“I heard about Caritas first from my sister,” said Hanan. “When I came here to register, they asked me about my family and I said I had two children. They immediately offered me services for me and for my children.”

Caritas Jordan has register 130,000 Syrian refugees to receive its aid. They will receive food vouchers, help with accommodation, medical care, counselling and other aid like blankets and heaters.

Hanan with her son in the counselling sessions with other  Syrian refuge mothers at the Caritas Centre in Zarqa. Credit: Caritas Jordan

Hanan with her son in the counselling sessions with other Syrian refuge mothers at the Caritas Centre in Zarqa. Credit: Caritas Jordan

Hanan was enrolled in Caritas Jordan counselling sessions for Syrian refugee mothers. These sessions are meant to help those mothers know more about how to deal with their children.

“I was really happy to come and be a part of this programme, and I have seen that now they [my children] have changed,” said Hanan.

“In the classes, we talk about how to deal with children, how to keep eye contact with them, how to change the mood of the children if they are angry, afraid or upset. I’ve learned how to deal better with them, to not yell all the time, to change my own behaviour,” she said.

Randa Zoumot is the counsellor. She said that the purpose of the classes is to help mothers know how important they are to their children and their futures. “They feel helpless and traumatized. Those mothers definitely need a spark, a hope,” said Randa. “We talk about trauma and we talk about their kids.

“Each one has an individual story. In the first session, they were all complaining about their children’s behaviour, how they hit each other; how they are tense. Now they talk about listening to their kids more, playing with their children more.”

Hanan has witnessed a change.

“ I was really nervous with my children but this has changed. I used to shout but now I’m more patient.  I count to three before I react,” she said. “Previously, they were always frightened because of the death of their sister. My son started to have nightmares that someone would come in and kill him. They have changed. I can really see the difference.”

Much more can be done. And with the number the Syrian refugee population in the region expected to double in the next six months from 1.6 to 3.5 million people, the needs will only grow in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and elsewhere.

“Thank God I can be here and I have the legs to stand and the mind to think. I am glad my children are with me, that we have Caritas, that we can feed our kids that we have a roof overhead,” said one of the mothers.

Notes by CRS/Caroline Brennan

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Filed under Aid Success Story, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in Syria, Jordan, Middle East & North Africa, Peacebuilding, Refugees, Syria

Mobile clinic visits Syrian refugee children

Available in French

Examining Syrian refugee children in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. By Laura Sheahen/Caritas

Tens of thousands of people have fled Syria to escape bombardments and shooting. Now living in cramped, unsanitary conditions in neighbouring countries, some refugees are falling ill. Doctor Simon Kolanjian is a pediatrician who travels in a Caritas Lebanon mobile clinic to treat refugee children. He spoke with Caritas Communications Officer Laura Sheahen about what he’s seen since the clinic on wheels started in May 2012.

How are Syrian refugee children doing?

The children are malnourished. They come to us and they’re weak and thin.

A lot of kids have diarrhea. The water isn’t clean. I tell them to boil it. We need to tell them how to use water. The infections go up in summer. We can’t keep giving them antibiotics if the water’s bad. We must address the root cause.

There are also upper respiratory infections, lice, fungal infections.

How many kids do you usually see in a typical day?

I saw 22 children in one place yesterday, then ten in another. Continue reading

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Filed under Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in Syria, Lebanon, Middle East & North Africa, Peacebuilding, Refugees, Syria