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Determined to Help

Determined to Help

Humanitarian Nihat Varan Shares an Update from the Field

Since the beginning of the ravaging war in Syria in 2011, 5.6 million people have been forced to leave the country. More than half of them—3.3 million refugees have escaped the conflict and found temporary sanctuary in Turkey. This makes Turkey the country with the highest number of refugees in the world. More than 95% of Syrians in Turkey reside in urban centres, most of them living a life in acute poverty.

Until May 2018, International Medical Corps provided basic health services, physiotherapy, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and child protection services in southeast Turkey. 

In this post, Nihat Varan, Health Technical Manager with International Medical Corps in Turkey, shares an update from the field.

Nihat has been with the organisation for 5 years. He currently supervises and coordinates the assistance of primary health centres in Hatay and Mersin and this past year he has been busy implementing a program funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

Reflecting on the war in Syria, Nihat said,

I used to study medicine in Damascus—it is painful to see such a beautiful country and its people suffer from this never-ending war.

Understandably, the local health system in Turkey struggles to cope with the exceptionally large influx of refugees. In this context, the assistance from organisations such as International Medical Corps is often the only accessible source of healthcare for a Syrian refugee in Turkey.

Thanks to the funding, International Medical Corps was able to provide services specifically designed to address language and other complex barriers. The program also included a large-scale distribution of pharmaceuticals to primary health centres in Hatay and Mezitli, delivering medication to both registered and non-registered Syrian refugees with chronic diseases and other health issues.

When our team asked Nihat why he wants to help the Syrian refugee community, he told us,

I know that the Syrian people would have done the same for us and always felt the need of doing something more for them. That is why I joined International Medical Corps—to be with our Syrian friends at the worst time of their lives.

An often forgotten aspect of a humanitarian crisis is what happens after a refugee is temporarily sheltered from harm’s way. Syrian refugees in Turkey may have escaped the immediate dangers of conflict, but challenges come in many shapes. Lacking access to healthcare is just one of them.

This is why the work carried out by humanitarians such as Nihat is so important, delivering vital health services to refugee communities as well as restoring their dignity in times of need. 


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