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Local Doctors Help Syrian Refugees

Updated: Saturday, September 14 2013, 10:07 AM EDT
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- A local medical team returned to Cincinnati Friday after spending a week in Jordan providing care to Syrian refugees.

Dr. Humam Akbik led the team which included Dr. Maram Khabbaz, nurse practitioner Sondra Blythe and physicians assistant Iman Eltay. It was Dr. Akbik's sixth trip to Jordan since October 2012. He was born in Syria and has lived in the United States since 1993. Akbik called the trip "successful" despite the overwhelming need for medical care for refugees. He said his team saw between 900 and 1,000 patients.

Dr. Khabbaz called the trip "awesome." She would like to return to Jordan at a later date.

"It was a lot of need that we try our best to meet but I don't think we were able to meet oall the need there. Physically, emotionally, it was a huge need," Dr. Khabbaz said.

Sondra Blythe specializes in wound care. She and the others on the trip cared for patients but also trained medical personnel in Jordan on how to care for the wounded and those who may be suffering from bed sores. Blythe said she would like to go back to Jordan. She was surprised by the need for medical care.

"I can't honestly say I knew a lot about the specifics of what was going on but it was tragic over there. I just couldn't believe the lack of medications, the lack of pain medications.  Even the lack of supplies," Blythe said.

Dr. Akbik said people in Jordan have asked him to bring mental health professionals with him on his next trip. Many of the children are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are generally fearful and feel like no one cares about them, Akbik said. He also noticed many children are suffering life-altering gunshot wounds.

"We've seen young kids, especially female kids, who've been hit with spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, the snipers are targeting kids and they're targeting to paralyze them rather than kill them - which is something I really don't understand," Dr. Akbik said.

Dr. Akbik will return to Jordan in November. He is the chief of Pain Management Medicine at Mercy Health.Local Doctors Help Syrian Refugees

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The Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. A part of the larger Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, the conflict began March 15th, 2011 with local demonstrations that grew in scope to become nationwide by April 2011.

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963.

The Syrian Army was deployed in April of 2011 to stop the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of cities and neighborhoods being cut-off by the Army the protests evolved into an armed rebellion.

The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership as a result of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of Syrian political opposition groups, Syria's seat on 6 March 2013.

According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 2 million have fled to other countries.

Syrian government supporters include Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing material and weapons to the rebels.


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