Larbert hospital doctor aids Syrian refugees

Dr Ghassam Al-Nourani
Dr Ghassam Al-Nourani

A Syrian doctor working at Forth Valley Royal is continuing to raise money for children affected by the on-going civil war in his homeland.

Dr Ghassam Al-Nourani, a consultant paediatrician based at the flagship Larbert hospital, voluntarily returned to Syria in January to offer medical assistance to children affected by the conflict.

Since then he has continued to work with Aid4All, a Scottish charity that works to support many of the refugee camps that are dotted along the Syrian border with Turkey.

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Armed conflict broke out in the Middle Eastern country in March 2011 pitting Government forces against rebels aiming to oust the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has ruled Syria since 1971.

The civil war has continued to escalate, leading to the deaths of an estimated 70,000 people and forcing more than one million Syrians to flee the country as refugees, with many of them seeking shelter in neighbouring Turkey.

Dr Al-Nourani and his son Annar, a dentist, flew there to offer medical assistance in late January.

They also visited the refugee camp in Atma, northern Syria, which is home to some 12,000 refugees.

“Conditions there are very, very bad,” said Dr Al-Nourani, who has worked in Scotland for 21 years.

“There is no proper sanitation, very little food and the roads are simply mud.

“More than half of the refugees are children. In Syrian culture, most families have five children, which explains why there are so many there.

“And in this camp there is no education or work - there is nothing for them to do.”

One of the most in-demand items in the camp is baby milk, as many of the woman refugees are not able to offer breast milk due to stress and a lack of food.

Dr Al-Nourani continued: “The baby milk being distributed is meant to last three days, but we discovered that the mothers were having to make it last for 12. It was very watered down.

“We would only distribute it to woman that we could see had babies, as there is a huge black market for it.”