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A Doctor Created a New Term to Describe the Pain Syrian Children Are Experiencing

It feels insufficient to say that children from Syria are suffering from PTSD. The oft-orphaned survivors of a horrible ongoing humanitarian crisis are, likely, experiencing post-traumatic stress, but these children of war have experienced more trauma than the medical professionals who care for them have ever seen.

“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, a neuropsychologist with the 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.”

The emotional and material problems facing Syrian civilians are compounded every day by the crushing poverty and exploitation that Syrians experience at refugee camps.

“I have patients who tell me they were touched inappropriately by their doctors,” Alkhouri said in an address to the conference. “The doctors, because the patients were Syrian, assumed they were ‘whores.’” 

“There are girls on the streets of Beirut selling themselves — 8, 9 years old,” he said. “And then you tell their parents: Why don’t you send them to school so they can improve themselves? And they say, ‘They make $50 a day. Can you give me $50 a day?’

“You have millions of children who are devastated,” Hamza, the neuropsychologist, told ATTN: “and you have to ask, ‘Where is this going to lead?’”

One thing is for sure, “It’s going to impact the whole world.”

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