01/23/2013, 00.00
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Comboni Sisters aid 10 thousand Syrian refugees in the Jordanian desert

by Simone Cantarini
Fleeing the war they have walked hundreds of kilometers and are now in danger of dying of hunger, thirst and burns. Many refugees pregnant women and young mothers. The story of Sister Alessandra Fumagalli, an Italian Comboni and director of Karak Hospital. 150 km from Amman, the clinic is the only one able to provide help to these people. Sister Alessandra: "We want the world to know of their existence which is likely to go unnoticed"

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Thousands of Syrian women and pregnant mothers with very young children are likely to die of hunger, thirst and burns in the desert in southern Jordan. Fleeing from Syria they have found no shelter in the regular camps set up in the north of the country. Together with their children, they walked across the desert". This is the dramatic story of Sister Alessandra Fumagalli, a Comboni religious and director of the Italian Hospital Karak (about 150 km from the capital) for months engaged in assisting these forgotten refugees. According to the religious there are more than 10 thousand refugees in the Syrian region of Karak and their only point of reference is the clinic run by the nuns.

"The area in which they are allocated - the religious sister tells AsiaNews - is too decentralized to access aid from international organizations and the Jordanian government, which cover only the northern part of the country.' The nearest equipped hospital is in Amman. To get even trivial medical care they would have to travel some 300 km in the desert. For this reason they have come to our center, but being a non-profit organization, we need continuous donations to meet this emergency". The nun adds: "we want the world to know of their existence which is likely to go unnoticed."

Many of the women who come to the hospital are pregnant and want to have a safe place to give birth to their children. However, because of the long journey from Syria, most of them have problems, even serious health concerns. "Some are forced to give birth in the desert - explains Sister Alessandra - and come to us to treat and rehabilitate these children, but sometimes it's too late and they die from dehydration, malnutrition and burns caused by the hot sun of the desert." To avoid these situations, the hospital staff has to intervene in a timely manner, sometimes on the spot. But their resources are insufficient.

Founded in 1939, the Italian Hospital of Karak is the only clinic facility in the region and has about 40 beds. It is supported by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), the special Vatican agency for aid to Catholic churches and the people of the Middle East.

Six Comboni Sisters and 80 employees work in the hospital. 90% of them are Muslim. "The refugees are all Muslim - the religious says - the area of ​​Karak, is not Amman, but it is mostly inhabited by Bedouin tribes, it is inhospitable and for these people, even our employees are not used to helping those who suffer in a selfless manner. " In recent years the hospital has run several training courses for the staff, especially on ethical and assistance to patients. "Our nurses and doctors have learned that every life has value - she continues - for this reason, our clinic has become a point of reference for the local population. We welcome anyone who requests it, without any distinction. Here people feel accepted. "

In a year, about 300 thousand Syrians have crossed the border with Jordan. The country has responded by creating equipped camps, enough for less than half of the people. According to government figures, at least 2 thousand refugees have crossed the border in recent weeks.


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