Middle East

Syrian Doctor Cares For Refugees In Turkey

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Dr. Mahmud Angrini fled Syria with almost nothing but the shirt on his back. He now lives in Southern Turkey and works with NGOs to help others who are trying to flee the fighting. He spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin.


To Syria now, where the political opposition in that country has agreed to attend peace talks in Switzerland next week. It's hoped that the many sides in this war can at least agree on a cease-fire in order to get aid to civilians who have fled the fighting. More than two million people have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including Iraq and Turkey. Many have taken shelter in temporary camps which provides little protection from the harsh winter. The United Nations says the war has created the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide.

Mahmud Angrini is a Syrian doctor who fled to Southern Turkey's Hatay Province. He now works with an aid organization that helps care for those living in refugee camps. I spoke with him earlier and I asked Dr. Angrini what his life was like before the war.

DR. MAHMUD ANGRINI: Three years ago, I was a physician. I had a lab. It's a private laboratory in the city of Aleppo. And I was studying Ph.D. in the University of Aleppo. So I was happy and everything was going great.

MARTIN: And you were living in Aleppo. This was the site of some of the worst fighting of the war. I wonder, Mahmud, was there one particular incident - something that happened to you or your family - that made you think no more, I'm leaving?

ANGRINI: Rachel, I lost everything. I lost my house. My house was simply bombed. I lost my private laboratory. I lost my belongings. I turned into internally displaced person.

MARTIN: You are now work for an NGO doing aid work. What specifically are you working on? What do you do for that organization?

ANGRINI: We try to help people. We try to help the people who decided to stay inside Syria. So we provide some hospitals, some primary health care at the clinic. We try to support them with medicines. Even the organization try to help the camps with some services like water, sanitation and health promotion.

MARTIN: You're talking about camps inside the Syrian border. Can you give us a sense of what life is like in those camps right now? What are the conditions?

ANGRINI: Rachel, it's a very, very difficult situation, actually. They need clean water. They need clothes. They need blankets. They need everything. They need food. Try to imagine, this is winter in Syria and it's really a hard winter. Try to imagine those kids who are walking without sometimes without even shoes.

MARTIN: If the war ended tomorrow, would you return to Syria? And what about the many refugees that you've tried to help that you work with, would they go back? Would they want to go home?

ANGRINI: If the war ended without a real solution, no one can even dare to come back again inside Syria. I am sure that millions of Syrians will not dare to return to again home if Bashar Assad stays in the authority.

MARTIN: Dr. Muhmud Angrini is a Syrian refugee who now lives in Southern Turkey. Thank you so much for speaking to us.

ANGRINI: Thank you, Rachel.

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