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Wounded Syrian Refugees Strain Jordan's Health Services

Scott Bobb

Jordanian officials estimate that 80,000 Syrians have fled the fighting in their country between government troops and opposition forces for refuge in Jordan. Many are wounded, straining Jordanian health facilities.  

Khalaf Rshaidat and Khaled Ghizawi have lived in this apartment provided by a Jordanian benefactor for the past two months. They say they fled Syria after being wounded by government troops and asked that their identities be hidden.

Rshaidat - not his real name - was an interior decorator in Daraa, southern Syria. He says he was shot during an anti-government demonstration and then, in a hospital, authorities tortured him.

"They wanted me to confess that I was part of a terrorist organization, related to al-Qaida, and to say that the people who tortured us were terrorists from al-Qaida. And this is not true," he said.

The conflict in Syria began a year ago with peaceful protests, but has become increasingly violent. Rshaidat says he slipped into Jordan after a doctor helped him to escape from the hospital.

Khaled Ghizawi says he lost his hand and sight in one eye when soldiers threw a grenade at him in front of his vegetable shop. He says he secretly received emergency treatment in Syria, but has been unable to follow up in Jordan.

"My arm is still in pain," he said. "We have not seen anything of the [Syrian] opposition. We have had no aid at all. And as you see I should be in a hospital, not here."

The most seriously wounded refugees are being treated in Jordanian government hospitals. Others have to pay out of pocket.

Dr. Wasfi al-Rashda heads the privately-owned Irbid Specialty Hospital. He says private health facilities can only do so much.

"In this hospital, I can take care of one, two, three, four patients for free but the number of refugees is so big and this hospital is not supported by the government," he said. "So it's important that humanitarian groups, local or international, help out like in any humanitarian emergency."

Qusai Zu'bi is a mechanic who arrived last week with a gunshot wound to his thigh. He says government brutality in Syria is getting worse.

"They are shooting people just because of Bashar al-Assad, because of Iran," he said. "They were slaughtering us. They were shooting in all directions, children, women, men, unarmed people, from their cars, from their motorcycles."

These people would like to go home. But they say Syrian forces consider wounded civilians to be traitors and as a result they will be killed if they return.

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