Report on Syrian Crisis

October 17, 2012by Brenda Pierce

I talked to a friend of my daughter today that lives in Aleppo, Zuka. We are trying to convince her to leave, but she says she can’t go by herself and leave her family behind.  She is the only one in the family that has a passport.  Even with a war going on you need to have a passport and also ID cards to leave the country and get into another country.  If you have a passport you can go into the city and not into a refugee camp.  She says she can’t have her family stay in the camps they have too many problems and too many people.

She is also the only one in the family that is still getting a salary – she was working for ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Regions) and they are paying everyone until January. This is really good news, otherwise she and a lot of other young people would not have any money to live on for themselves and their families.  After 18 months of war, people are running out of money.  Just think if a natural disaster happened here and all banks closed and no ATM’s worked, would you have enough cash to live on and for how long? I think most people in the US only keep enough for maybe for one week, if that!

This evening there was a program on 60 Minutes regarding Syria and the reporter states “the only people in the city of Aleppo are the poor”.  I am sorry to state that she is very wrong and I will be writing to her.  There are the elderly and the middle class and also the handicapped that have not been able to leave and also a lot of people that did not believe that it would go to this extent and thought they might be able to hold on, but now they are stuck and not able to leave their homes due to snipers, road closures and not sure when the airports are open or not.  The cost of a plane ticket one way from Aleppo to Jordan is $800 and even more to Cairo.  There are only a few airlines that are still going into the country.

A doctor from Ohio, a Syrian-American just returned from a few days in Amman on a fact finding mission- he took a suitcase full of medicine with him and said that he will be doing this about twice a month.  He will leave on a Friday arrive on a Saturday and then return back to the US on a Monday.  He is very committed and wants to help in any way possible.  He came back and told me that the items that are really needed are:
1.  Hygiene kits for the women – purchasing in Jordan for $14
2.  School kit for children – purchasing in Jordan for $12
3.  Adult diapers – not sure of prices
4. Blankets for the winter

Salaam Cultural Museum and Caravan-Serai have joined forces with Disaster Training International and the Syrian American Association of Washington (SAAWA) to collect donations for these items.  We have Father Samir Abulail, a Jordanian from Irbid, that is leaving on the 1st of November and he will be taking the money back and purchasing the items through a wholesaler that we know there to get as much as we can for the money he will have with him.

If anyone wants to make a donation you are able to earmark what you want us to purchase with your funds and we will take note of that.

We want to thank you all for your concern and your emails about family and friends and also your guides that you had when you traveled there.  We are hoping that this will not keep on, but it looks like a very long fight and one that is not easy to resolve.

We are working on getting a fact finding group to go over about the end of November.  We are planning to include a therapist, trauma specialist, speech therapist, and a doctor from here to go and do our own research.  We will keep you all apprised of the situation.

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