Illness, cold and no way back

by Lina Koch,  2014/12/16

The Syrian refugees’ life circumstances in Lebanon are still alarming. Two concerns have even become more serious these weeks than they have been during the rest of the year: the oncoming winter and the insufficient care for chronically ill people are specially challenging for the helping humedica teams and are urging for action.

Facing winter without any protection

Bare brickwork without any insulation, no warming clothes, only one insufficient radiator here and there: These days, this is reality for more than one million Syrian refugees in the east of Lebanon.

After their flight out of their home country, during which many of them could save hardly more than their lives, the oncoming winter represents the next challenge. According to meteorologists, this winter will be especially cold. Including temperatures under zero degrees Celsius and snowfall.

“For the next months we are expecting a hard winter. The people don’t have anything to protect themselves sufficiently against the cold temperatures. There is need at all ends, a catastrophe for the refugees’ health”, explains humedica coordinator Susanne Carl, positioned in Lebanon, with concern.

“Our two medical teams care for 32 refugee camps in all, but we are as good as helpless against the big problems which the winter is bringing along.”

As it is the case so often, it is due to lacking funds that the Syrians’ need has become so big. In Lebanon alone, 46 percent of the annual requirement for the provision of sufficient help is still lacking. There is no need to tell you that this year is about to end in a few days.

The humedica doctors can already feel the first consequences of this grievance. Doctor Mhamad Chaddad declares that the number of illnesses due to the cold continues increasing: “Especially the babies and small children suffer from these circumstances. Here a common cold quickly becomes a life-threatening pneumonia. The largely spread gastric diseases are even more serious, as they weaken the immune system.”

humedica has been able to distribute thousands of children’s shoes and has thus made a step into the right direction. But the need remains great and thus, the humedica teams, consisting of doctors, pharmacists and coordinators fight every day again against what the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres has called “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our times.”

Hardly any treatment possibilities for chronically ill people

Whereas the oncoming winter is a real threat for all refugees, there are thousands of children, women and men amongst them for whom the precarious life circumstances bring yet another danger. Due to lacking funds, refugees suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension or cancer have hardly any chance for an appropriate treatment.

Not only sufficient and appropriate medicine is lacking, but also a healthy nutrition which is so important for chronically ill persons. It is extremely difficult to get fruits or vegetables, there is hardly any clear water and most refugees would only give a weak smile if you ask them about regular and varied meals.

In order to counteract the complications and long-term consequences of these diseases, the humedica doctors and their partner Medical Teams International try to assure regular treatment for the concerned persons: “It is very important for the refugees suffering from chronic diseases to come to our consultations in the camps regularly. We can only supply them with the necessary medicine this way, in order to avoid permanent damage to their health”, says Doctor Mhamad Chaddad.

Fatme is one of the patients who come back regularly. She had to get away from her home country at the age of 77. What is left is her longing look at the mountains nearby, behind which her home country is getting lost in violence. Fatme suffers from hypertension and chronic back aches, which she can only treat thanks to the medicine regularly given by humedica.

“In fact, I should follow a diet low on salt, but how could I do so? I am happy, if there is anything to eat at all and thus, I eat what I can get”, she explains her situation.

And then, there is Turkiyeh. Despite her impressing 102 years of age she never misses any humedica team camp visit to get her medicine against her chronic pains.

But there is another reason for her coming: “The humedica doctors’ visit gives me some hope every time and I feel like a human again. A human being who has not been forgotten!”

At the moment nobody can tell, when Fatme, Turkiyeh and the other Syrian refugees will be able to go back to their home country and, thus, humedica is going to stay in Lebanon, thanks to the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to be at the side of those people who have come into need entirely innocently during their hardest time.

Please become part of this life-saving help and support the work of the humedica team of doctors with a directed donation. Any contribution counts. Thank you very much!

      humedica e.V.
      keyword: “Syrian refugees”
      IBAN DE35 7345 0000 0000 0047 47
      BIC BYLADEM1KFB
      bank Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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