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Doctors Without Borders brings medical care to Syrian refugees

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Doctors Without Borders is providing medical care to Syrian refugees throughout Lebabon, as well as in Iraq and Jordan. But refugees from this conflict are not receiving nearly enough assistance. MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES

According to latest figures from UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, Turkey is currently home to some 185,000 Syrian refugees, while more than 100,000 have fled to Iraq and twice that number to Lebanon.  And they are still coming, with no end in sight to the fighting inside Syria.

There are thought to be 14 Syrian refugee camps in Turkey. Kilis is in south central Turkey, right on the northern border of Syria. MSF, in partnership with the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, has been providing mental health support to some of the 14,000 Syrians thought to be taking shelter here.

Lebanon is thought to have taken in up to 205,000 Syrian refugees officially registered by UNHCR. An additional 120,000 Syrians have been in contact with UNHCR, bringing the total number to 325,000. MSF last month released a report expressing concern at what it called a “marked deterioration” in the humanitarian situation there, blaming lengthy registration delays for new arrivals. Refugees in Lebanon are not entitled to formal assistance if they are not registered. Lebanon is home to the majority of Syrian refugees. But many did not have sufficient food or shelter to cope with harsh winter conditions, the MSF report found.  MSF has been providing humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon since November 2011.

Domeez camp, near the city of Dohuk in the Kurdish region of Iraq, was set up at the beginning of 2012 and is now serving as a temporary home for some 50,000 Syrian refugees of Kurdish origin. Since May 2012, MSF has been running a 24-hour clinic in the camp, in collaboration with Dohuk’s Department of Health.

Most of the refugees in Domeez arrived with nothing, having left everything behind in Syria. Once in Iraq, they are issued with a six-month renewable residence permit by the Kurdish authorities, which allows them to look for work. Most find jobs as daily laborers. People who have been here for some time have begun to build extensions to their shelters, and some have opened small shops within the camp.

As the camp’s main health provider, MSF has been offering medical consultations and mental health care to the refugees, while also providing training for local health staff.

Up until June of last year there were about 2,000 people settled in Domeez, and the camp was running well. But in August, the situation deteriorated because of a sudden massive arrival of refugees with up to 1,000 people crossing the border each day. The camp quickly became overcrowded and, despite the efforts of the authorities, the level of assistance was clearly insufficient.  An MSF doctor at the camp describes the situation now as “scary”.


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