May 29, 2012—Islamic Relief USA CEO Abed Ayoub listened to heart-wrenching stories from Syrian refugees recently on a trip to Jordan, where he also met with top officials in an effort to find ways to bring much-needed medical relief to the refugees.
Ayoub met with Jordan’s Chief of Staff Imad Fakhoury and the U.S. Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Jordan, Elizabeth Hopkins, as well as representatives from organizations including USAID. The group worked to foster partnerships to more efficiently assist refugees.
During his trip in May, Ayoub and staff visited refugee camps, and now he’s relaying the needs of the refugees he met, whose situations he described as catastrophic and heartbreaking.
“The Jordanian government is trying to accommodate the influx of refugees to the country, but their ability is extremely limited and they need a lot of support,” he said.
Ayoub visited one of the largest Syrian refugee camps, known as Cyber City, on the outskirts of Al-Ramtha area near the border of Syria and Jordan.
Most shocking, he said, was that many people were missing very simple, basic necessities that we take for granted every day—simple things, like a pair of glasses to see, or a refrigerator to keep medicines cold, or even a fan to cool them down and prevent heat exhaustion in the scorching sun.
“Very simple things would make a huge difference in their lives, and they can’t find them,” Ayoub said.
Space is scarce in the camps, and families are forced to share each floor of some of the buildings, sharing one bathroom and one kitchen between 10 to 15 families. Each family—mother, father, children and other close relatives—get just one room, where they all sleep on the floor. There is no air conditioning or other air circulation system.
“You can imagine what life is like for them,” Ayoub said. “It’s extremely difficult, and they’re living with barely any running water and only canned food.”
For those who are injured, medical care is very limited. With few doctors in the camps, gunshot wounds and major burns are being treated with simple first aid until more complex treatments become available.
“In one case, a man was shot in the knee several times,” Ayoub said. “There is no treatment for him except to stop the bleeding and bandage his leg. He doesn’t have a wheelchair or crutches to help him heal, so other men must carry him around when he needs to move or use the restroom.”
“… In another case, a child has a bullet in his skull, and without advanced medical care available, the bullet has to stay there. The boy has severe headaches and has lost some feeling in his arms, but removing the bullet in the camps’ conditions may leave him permanently disabled or paralyzed.”
“… Another man had one whole leg amputated and the other has now developed an infection. He had to cut off his own toe in the kitchen of his home to try and stop the spread of infection when his toe became blackened and the tissue died.”
“So many people are being severely injured in the conflict and need more advanced medical attention than is available currently in the camps. They need doctors, they need medicines, they need simple items to help them recover. This is the information I brought to discussion with the officials I met with. We’re trying to find ways to bring these refugees what they need as soon as possible.”
Thousands of Syrian refugees are injured or need medical support in the camps, and with more than 20,000 registered refugees and an estimated total of 146,000 refugees in Jordan living in dire conditions, the number of the sick and injured will only grow.
Ayoub said Islamic Relief USA will continue to work to bring attention to the crisis, and to urge other organizations to work together to deliver medical care to relieve the refugees’ suffering.
To learn more about Islamic Relief’s efforts for Syrian refugees, visit irusa.org.