By THE UN REFUGEE AGENCY
Not long ago, Syria was the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country. Now, after three years of conflict, Syrians are about to replace Afghans as the largest refugee population worldwide. For decades Syria welcomed refugees from other countries, and now it has been ripped apart and forced into exile itself.
Children have been the hardest hit in this war, and over 1.2 million of them are now living as refugees. There are grave fears for these kids who have experienced three long years of trauma and brutality in this humanitarian catastrophe.
Just over the border from Syria in neighbouring Jordan, 120,000 Syrian refugees have sought safety in Zaatari Refugee Camp, which is now the second largest refugee camp in the world.
Dr Ana Calvo is the UN Refugee Agency’s Public Health Officer at the Zaatari camp. She is a medical doctor and has experience working in humanitarian emergencies around the world, including Mozambique, Colombia, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Kosovo.
We spoke to Ana about her work helping Syrian refugees.
What do you do at the Zaatari Refugee Camp?
Health activities are crucial during the arrival point at the camp and, as every day we have new people arriving, you can imagine the days are very busy here. There are injured refugees, unaccompanied young refugees, disabled war amputees, and women and kids psychologically traumatised from the terror they have been through and in great need of help.
There are also adults with complications from chronic diseases or mental health problems because they could not get the medicine they need inside Syria. After years of war in the country, many children have not had their basic vaccinations and pregnant women are lacking prenatal care. These people have not had healthcare for months, sometimes years, because the war has destroyed the health centers were they used to go.
Is treating patients at arrival your main function in the camp?