A Doctor Says This Term Is More Accurate Than PTSD When Treating Syrian Children

Still, you can help.

Dr. M.K. Hamza has created a new term for the trauma Syrian children are left with in 2017: human devastation syndrome.

The term is meant to speak to something beyond post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), something he believes doesn't accurately depict what the children in Syria are encountering. Since the civil war began in 2011, children there have been under a barrage of unthinkable horrors.

The United Nations Refugee Agency says 6.3 million people are internally displaced. 4.9 million have fled Syria since 2011. More than 500,000 have died. And, of the half million Syrians in refugee camps, 1 in 5 are under the age 11. 

"We have talked to so many children, and their devastation is above and beyond what even soldiers are able to see in the war," Hamza, who chairs the mental health committee of Syrian American Medical Society, told ATTN. "They have seen dismantled human beings that used to be their parents, or their siblings. You get out of a family of five or six or 10 or whatever — you get one survivor, two survivors sometimes. A lot of them have physical impairments. Amputations. Severe injuries. And they've made it to the refugee camp somehow."


Athens APRIL 15: Women waiting in line to get food from the International Mission Red Cross in Greek port April 15, 2016 in Athens. Shutterstock / Nice_Media

Perhaps most consequentially, airstrikes have continued to bombard Syria over the last few years. Another intensive care physician with SAMS, Anas Moughrabieh, told ATTN that almost every hospital or clinic they support has been attacked, and — according to Physicians For Human Rights — nine times out of 10 it's by airstrikes. Since the rebels don't have an air force, people on the ground are certain those airstrikes come from the regime or allies of the regime.

"Instead of providing resources to treat this 10-year-old child who was hit by a missile," Moughrabieh said. "We have to stop the missile before it hits them." 

Still, the humanatarian aid is helpful. If you want to donate, organizations like the American Refugee Committee, CARE, UNICEF  and The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) all have reputable programs that help facilitate funding for Syrians in need.

You can also donate your time and skills. Several organizations, from The International Rescue Committee to the UNHCR have opportunities to volunteer. In order to volunteer at the IRC, you have to fill out an application, attend an orientation, go through and interview and complete a background check. They also encourage people to sign petitions, call legislators or re-tweet updates on the refugee crisis.

Athens APRIL 15: Syrian boy receive oranges from Charitable Organizations in a refugee camp April 15, 2016 in Athens.

But of course, like Moughrabieh said, the biggest potential impact is helping to stop the missiles from falling.

While that goal may seem tougher, there are legitimate ways you can make it a reality. Sharing the stories of the Syrians devastated by war raises awareness that can bolster political movements. Pressuring American congressmen to support the delivery of aid or to take decisive action to end the Syrian Civil War could also be a meaningful exercise. 

Cover photo: Shutterstock / Nice_Media



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