Syrian Refugees: The Faces Behind the Numbers

By Guest
Dr. Seri making a field visit

In early March, news agencies across the world reported about Bushra, a 19 year-old Syrian mother of two who fled her home in Homs, Syria to arrive in Tripoli, Lebanon. What was newsworthy about Bushra wasn't the bombs and bullets her family fled from, nor the crowded camp she now inhabited—these traits she shared with hundreds of thousands of other refugees around her. What was most newsworthy about Bushra's migration was that she was recorded by the United Nations as the one millionth refugee to flee Syria. One million—a number that has since and continues to grow by thousands more every single day.

In January of this year, a medical wing—owned and operated by Syria Relief and Development (SRD)—inside Akilah Hospital in Amman, Jordan recorded another number: 10,000, the number of refugee patients it has treated since first opening its doors in July 2012. Doctors at the medical wing have treated refugees suffering from diabetes, orthopedic injuries, seizures and a host of other physical ailments. SRD's doctors treat the scars of war and recognize that the physical are often easier to repair than the emotional.

But what all these numbers don't tell are the individual stories behind the pain and suffering. Stories like that of Maria, a 12 year-old girl from Daraa who was preparing her doll for a ritual bath when her house was shelled causing her young body to be crushed under the weight of her roof. Her father grabbed her frail injured body and fled to Jordan where she was treated at SRD's medical wing for seizures, fractures and facial swelling. And stories like that of Amna, a diabetic woman who suffered a stroke while fleeing Daraa and was treated at SRD's medical wing after being turned away from other hospitals due to lack of funds. And stories like that of Abu Feras, a man who was struck by bullets while delivering food to a neighbor and fled his home in Homs, arrived at SRD's medical wing and received surgery to repair his wounds.

At Syria Relief and Development, we have been touched by the faces behind the numbers and the stories of the people who left their homes and livelihoods to seek safety. What they brought with them was more important than what they left behind—those very faces and stories to be shared with the world. Our medical staff sees every day the physical and emotional pain that war brings. We see refugees often at their worst—and then, while healing from their physical and emotional trauma, we get to see them at their most resilient moments. They remind us every single day what a precious gift life is and how important it is to continue struggling for the right cause.

Dr. Seri Bakar is the Regional Director of Syria Relief and Development. His organization helps deliver supplies to medical facilities in conflict-affected areas of Syria.