UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit refugee camps in Turkey today as part of a regional tour for talks on the Syria crisis. Since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled their homes, seeking safety and medical treatment from neighboring Turkey.
The influx of refugees is straining hospitals and camps, leaving many homeless, injured and unprotected against the frigid creep of winter and the reality of diminishing food and supplies.
Dr. Luay Alkotob just returned from an aid mission to Turkey with the Syrian American Medical Society. He describes the Syrian refugee situation on the ground in Turkey.
"The immediate need is absolutely devastating," he says. "When you see families who have potentially lost their sole providers, or families who are dealing with members who will be forever disabled, and yet have no means to even attend to their immediate needs, now..." Dr. Alkotob says, "The longer the crisis goes on, the long term problems, and the massive need over the many years to come, is just incredible."
Winters in Syria are harsh, and many families remain homeless. Medical problems have been exacerbated by infection, and exposure.
In spite of all of the difficulties though, Dr. Alkotob has been inspired by the resilience of the Syrian people. He described one young man who is a paraplegic as a result of the war. "He said, 'you know, when I protested peacefully, I did it because I believed in something, and I think we're going to achieve our goal.'"