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The Issue of Medical Attention to Syrian Refugees in Camps

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Syria lies in between Iraq which is to the east, Israel and Jordan as well as Lebanon to the west, and Turkey to the north. These neighboring countries will have an impact on the lives of the Syrians as the war begins to progress. Corruption has been a major issue and the people of Syria have grown tired. Migration of the Syrians has left a lot in question on what actions are being taken, and what are the hopes that the neighboring countries are allowing them to take asylum. Let alone the ones who are caught in the middle of all this are left without any access to food, water, resources of any kind, and land that is being taken for war zones.

The beliefs of Syrians have been changing over the years, but they still have their roots of traditions. Their religious beliefs are Muslim which is practiced by 90% of the population. But religious practices of Syrians are not something they truly are defined by. To the ones that are very devoted to their religion, they pray five times a day but privately. The typical Syrian family is large and extended. Around 90% of Syrians are from Arab descent as well as the largest ethnic minority Kurdish, as this is one of the largest ethnic groups that resides in population in Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Most of French and English is understood but the official language is Arabic. In Muslim tradition, marriage is arranged by the couple’s families. In years passed it has become lenient but it is very rare in my parts of the country and cities. While women are entitled to receive the same education as men and to seek employment, the traditional views are that a woman is considered the possession of a man rather than her own person. She is identified as her father’s daughter until marriage. But after the birth of a male child, her identity is transferred from the wife of her husband to the mother of her son.

The question here is how are Syrians getting medical attention in a refugee camp? For their neighboring countries, this will be a major role on how they will make a greater impact on their lives. Living in neighboring countries they cannot attend for many refugees, many are not permitted to work and are sliding deeper into poverty. Health needs of Syrians is a major issue in refugee hosting countries. How are these countries allowing Syrians to get the help they need for health issues. Little as a cold, vaccines, women’s health, as well as mental health.

Political Institutions

The Syrian government is to be considered a unitary republic. But before gaining independence they were under the French control until 1946. Since gaining independence, Syria has experienced political turmoil and several successful military overthrows. During this time, the government has been through a wide range of systems, everything from multi-partyism to nationalism. But from undergoing all of these changes from that period of time, they have stuck to a unitary republic with a semi-presidential style of government. The country has been ruled by the Syrian Ba’ath party and through their dictatorship they have experienced decades of international conflict and internal violence. The death of Hafez, his son, Bashar, ran for the presidency to this day he continues to be President. 

Beginning with peaceful protest with hopes of seeking government reforms. Pro-democracy citizens began with little demonstration of change but by their own government they were handled brutally. The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad plays a major role in the start of all of this. His dictatorship has left many to begin rebelling in hopes of getting some change. But most are loyal to their President Assad, in leaving him to reign. Violence is escalating which means the crisis has yet to be solved or have begun to make compromise with. Their own government have been air striking with bombs in the populated cities.

In response the Syrians unitary republic government it plays a major in what is said. The government is divided into three branches of executive, legislative, and judicial which the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party controls all three branches.(Zirulnick,2019) Government’s policies and actions do play a major role on how what problems are faced by the Syrian people. Due to the control of the Ba’ath party as well as the roles they play there is no one to go against their authority.

Migrants’ Journey

Syrians are fleeing from their own country in hopes of one day returning. This is just the start where Syrians begin to migrate due to the facts that life in their own country has become intolerable. Others fleeing their home and traveling far not just by land but as well by sea. But most importantly they are trying to see a future for themselves. Mariam Akash, mother of nine, comments

“We’re just living on the edge of life. We’re always nervous, we’re always afraid.” (BBC, 2016)

The Syrian Civil War has been going on for nearly a decade which has led to destroyed cities, human rights being violated and overall caused horrific catastrophes within their own culture as well as beliefs. Not only is it not tolerable for them to live there but it has come to the point that many are just found in the middle of all these catastrophic events. The top refugee camps are in Turkey. Which is where most Syrians travel to seek refugee during the time being.

Turkey has around 3.6 million Syrian refugees with having very limited access to basic services. Many families escape one horrific tragedy to go onto another in refugee camps. Once they leave their home they are faced with many challenges. First it’s the lack of income is one of the biggest struggles refugees face. Without money, parents can’t provide for their families, which puts them in danger. Second, crowded spaces and lack of resources have also made hygiene a huge concern. Due to lack of clean water and sanitation in refugee camps, diseases like polio and cholera easily spread.

Overall, all Syrians are being impacted in a particular way. Health is a major issue that is a major concern. Mental health and women’s health were identified as the greatest health needs. The most common health problems were diseases in Jordan, women’s health in Lebanon and mental health in Turkey. There are many gaps in services found to address healthcare services. Neighbouring countries are overwhelmed, and are unprepared to deal with such huge need. Women’s health, mental health, and vaccinations. The lack of medical attention towards any refugee is a huge concern. Mental health not just of adults as well as children. Being traumatized with the ongoing terror of the war. Women’s basic necessities and child labor.

Syrians live in refugee camps, but many more live outside the camps in order to find work to support their families.

Syrians live in horrible conditions with small tents and as one Syrian refugee, Khadijia mother of four, puts it, “Look at this place. You can’t tell the difference between this camp and a toilet, as she gestures around her home: a tent inside a concrete warehouse, made of dusty carpets draped over haphazardly positioned metal rods”.

Like Khadijia there are many more refugees that are living in these poor conditions and who fled with a large family while they could. Her children are now working with jobs being provided by the Turkish government. She explains how she is frustrated she is that in the refugee camps there is little to no education provided for her children. Syrian refugees that are under the age of 18 and have grown up knowing nothing but conflict. Living in these conditions comes with unhealthy living styles. Swamps in the camps, flies with diseases, weather having a major impact within these communities. There is not much health care provided. 

Conclusion and Recommendations

An enhanced synchronized approach to address the priority health needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Syria’s neighboring countries remains highly needed to reduce the existing gaps identified in responding to the health needs of displaced Syrians. This includes training of health human resources to ensure a skilled workforce, adequate infrastructure for the provision of health services needed, and community-based efforts to overcome barriers to access. In Lebanon specifically, women’s health, mental health, and communicable diseases remain the most prevalent health needs among the Syrian refugee population. Having said that, service interventions and capacity building initiatives in these health areas are highly encouraged. Syrian refugees identified cost as the most significant barrier to health care access, seeing increased livelihood opportunities as a potential solution to this problem. Perceived unfair aid distribution, discrimination and tensions with host communities were common complaints of Syrian refugees that reportedly adversely affected their health. There is an urgent need for better coordina- tion among aid agencies to better orchestrate their eforts to address the mental health needs of Syrian refugees, and those intern- ally displaced. Many agencies work in the same towns and camps, which is not always necessary, and could mean duplication of efforts. Moving agency branches to di¡erent sites and areas, and further developing com- munity outreach teams will help uncover the real mental health needs of people, as well as encourage other su¡erers to come forward. There is a potential role required for the WHO to direct, map and streamline these e¡orts.

Teams and volunteers should be trained to encourage and highlight the importance of self-help, problem solving and the role of affected individuals in dealing with their conditions. 

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