Tablets cannot alleviate all suffering

by Volker Baumann, 2013/04/10

Political tensions have increased significantly in Lebanon since November last year. Every day, fighting rages in the area around Tripoli in the north of the country. The Libyan army tries to intervene, yet in vain. The number of people killed in the gunfights is concealed in order not to alarm the local population even more.

In world-famous Bekaa valley, which had once been a popular destination of the world’s mightiest emperors even before the Roman era, the fighting goes almost unnoticed. Yet the flow of Syrian refugees has had an impact here as well. In the last week of March alone, 5000 new arrivals were registered at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Bekaa Valley. Nobody knows how many Syrians have fled into Lebanon altogether.

The approximately 400.000 Syrian refugees registered by the first week of April in the whole of Lebanon are less than half of the actual number of refugees from the neighbour country. Their total number is estimated at around 900.000. This number does not include those Syrians who had worked as harvest labourers in the Lebanon already before the war to provide for their families at home.

The situation has remained challenging. Therefore, the UNHCR welcomed the decision of humedica to resume our medical work in Bekaa Valley. The start was made easier for us by the support of our Lebanese partner, “Heart for Lebanon”.

In the last week of March, the medical teams of humedica and their interpreters started work in Zahlé, the capital of the Bekaa. On the first day they already treated 81 patients, about half of them were young people under 18. After eight days, they had given medical care to 645 patients, as is documented in the precise statistics kept by volunteer Saskia Hankel.

In the last week of March, the medical teams of humedica and their interpreters started work in Zahlé, the capital of the Bekaa. On the first day they already treated 81 patients, about half of them were young people under 18. After eight days, they had given medical care to 645 patients, as is documented in the precise statistics kept by volunteer Saskia Hankel.

Much more difficult to describe is the refugees’ emotional suffering. One woman had learnt only the day before that her husband had been killed in the fighting in Syria. Dazedly, she walked into the treatment tent, not really aware of her surroundings. The two doctors, Elke Göhre and Rotraud Lorenz, spent a long time with this woman. This was more effective than any tablets and, yet, the doctors could do very little to alleviate her pain.

If not treated, scarlet can lead to severe secondary disorders. The humedica physicians were able to help this girl by giving her antibiotics. Photo: humedica/Volker Baumann

Fortunately, the many children aged between five and ten seemed relatively unfazed by the circumstances they live in. The boys were jumping about happily between the closely-spaced tents, roughhousing and playing with their yo-yos. Their sisters were taking care of their younger siblings, the women were fetching water and cooking. Then men were drinking tea and talking. Only few of the young people can attend a school. What their future will look like after the end of the civil war can only be surmised.

Almost all the refugees emphasise how much they appreciate the work of humedica and how precious it is to them. “That you really came back…Thank you or “Shukran”, in Arab!” The medical care given to them last year has not been forgotten. Neither has the distribution of food parcels which had helped the newly-arrived refugees to survive until the first UNHCR supplies arrived.

Now the focus is once more on medical treatment. The first team has been replaced by a second one. Heidi Nicklin has taken over coordination for the next two months.

She will barely have time to rest in that period, yet she is used to that since she has done a lot of similar work before in other countries. This is another side of Lebanon or Beirut, which was called the “Paris of the Middle East” in former times. And this is why our return to Bekaa Valley is all the more important.

Please support the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, who are dependent on our help, by means of a specific donation. Thank you so much!

      humedica e. V.
      Reference „Syrian Refugees
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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