DR. SAREN AZER of Comox treats a young boy during his visit to Syria last fall.

Comox Valley doctor, woman helping to ease plight of Syrian refugees

More than two million Syrian refugees have fled their country, and over one million of those are children.

More than two million Syrian refugees have fled their country, and over one million of those are children, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

A further four million people are displaced in Syria.

Of the fled refugees, about 80,000 are squished into Domiz Syrian Refugee Camp, which is in Iraq near the Syrian border. This camp is two kilometres square.

Comox doctor Saren Azer volunteered at the camp last October, and understands the need for medical supplies.

“It is very dire. The camp was originally built for 8,000 to 12,000 people,” says Azer, noting about 40,000 were living at the camp when he was there. “Now, I’ve heard that that number has grown to about 80,000.

“So, 80,000 people are packed into two square kilometres — literally extremely crowded, really poor sanitation, pretty much no hygiene and a lack access to clean water.

“There is only one medical clinic that has one physician that works from 9 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) so literally there’s barely any medical care, so dire, dire situation, and a large number of unnecessary deaths — malnutrition, infectious diseases, pneumonia, meningitis, gastroenteritis, illnesses are widely spread.”

Azer’s non-profit International Society for Peace and Human Rights (ISPHR) launched a Medical Hope for Syria campaign, which aims to raise $39,000 by the end of this month in the Comox Valley. This money would purchase, and pay for the shipping of, 50 Physician Travel Packs, which are suitcase-sized boxes that can treat up to 600 children and adults.

“That’s enough to help 30,000 patients, so that’s a huge amount of assistance,” adds Comox Valley campaign volunteer Julie Angus, who is part Syrian and has family living in Syria.

Angus notes a philanthropist has offered to match any funds raised by ISPHR so if $39,000 were raised in the Valley, that would actually mean 100 Physician Travel Packs could be sent to the refugee camp.

“And because we’re working with the charity Health Partners International, every dollar (raised) gets $10 worth of medical supplies, so it really is going a long way,” she continues, noting the entire campaign is volunteer driven so every cent raised goes towards the cause.

“What we’re trying to do is make positive change for the people who have been most affected by this war, which is the civilians,” she says, noting her father moved from Syria to Canada when he was 20 and she has cousins, aunts and uncles living in Aleppo, Syria.

“They’re in the middle of the war zone so they’ve witnessed horrible things,” she explains, as she admits she worries about them. “The windows in their home have been shot out, there’s major food shortages, there’s no fresh water, there’s no electricity, the kids haven’t been in school for pretty much two years — it’s the middle of a war zone. The terror that people in Syria are facing is, you know, beyond words in some cases.”

Azer adds the refugees who leave Syria walk across the border with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and, according to the United Nations, about 5,000 to 6,000 Syrians do so every day, most of them women and children.

Last February, ISPHR sent 50 Physician Travel Packs to the Domiz Camp, and the medicine in those packs saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives, according to ISPHR’s website. Azer recently heard the camp has run out of medical supplies, and “the graveyard at the camp is getting larger and larger,” from camp medical workers.

Each pack costs $575 and contains nearly $6,000 of medicine and supplies. After purchasing the packs, ISPHR co-ordinates the delivery, ensuring the packs reach the camp’s health centre.

ISPHR calls on community service clubs, businesses, schools, neighbourhoods, book clubs, churches, sports teams, organizations and individuals to join their fundraising efforts.

Organizations can contact Lynn Foster, ISPHR executive secretary, at fosterlf@shaw.ca or 250-650-7763 to receive a fundraiser package or make a donation. Donations can also be sent to 162 Manor Pl., Comox, B.C. V9M 1C6. Donations are tax-deductible and should be made out to Health Partners International, Canada. More information is available at www.peaceandhumanrights.org.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Just Posted

Fire breaks out at Courtenay hostel

Police arrest man who could be associated with rash of fires

BREAKING: Large structure fire at downtown Courtenay hostel

A fire in downtown Courtenay has engulfed the Cona Hostel at the… Continue reading

Affordable rental housing complex opens in Courtenay

The Braidwood facility will house 34 people at risk of homelessness

Applications open for record bursary, scholarship funding at North Island College

Current and future North Island College students can now apply for scholarships… Continue reading

Second Stage Players present laughter and love in We Are Family

Get your tickets early to see the Evergreen Club’s Second Stage Players’… Continue reading

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Comox Valley Hospice Society finds new Ocean Front home

Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) recently announced plans to construct a new… Continue reading

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read