The Hamilton Spectator

Ancaster doctor bringing relief to quake victims


Within the first week of the devastatin­g earthquake in Syria, thousands of people were dead and thousands of others were left homeless, scared, and alone.

While relief efforts were concentrat­ed in Turkey, in Syria, with closed borders and a rebel-controlled area, resources were limited.

“The hospitals and clinics received nothing (from outside relief agencies). They had to rely on what was already stored,” said Dr. Anas Al Kassem, an Ancaster surgeon who is part of a small group of Canadian and American medical personnel attempting to provide help to the stricken area. “The area is completely destroyed.”

He said there are some villages in Syria that were gone. And while there are thousands of people dead, there are also thousands of people left homeless, with temperatur­es dropping below zero and little support, he said.

But their meagre resources were quickly depleted and Al Kassem is hoping the recent decision by Syrian President Bashar Assad to let the United Nations deliver aid to Syria through two more border crossings from Turkey for three months will allow critical help to get to vulnerable people.

Two devastatin­g earthquake­s struck southern Turkey, near the border with Syria, in the early hours of Feb. 6, killing more than 45,000 people and leaving many more homeless on both sides of the border. Another significan­t quake hit the region on Monday, causing further destructio­n.

Al Kassem, co-founder of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizati­ons Canada, was scheduled to travel to Syria with other medical personnel Feb. 17 to bring relief and supplies.

The Canadian government announced it will match up to $10 million in donations to the Canadian Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria between Feb. 6 and 22. But the Canadian government has also pledged $10 million in aid for earthquake efforts.

“I would like the federal government to provide additional resources,” Al Kassem said.

He encourages the public to also, if possible, donate money to the group, through its website uossmcanad­

“We need funds for supplies,” he said.

 ?? ?? Dr. Anas Al Kassem is part of a small group of medical personnel providing help in Syria.
Dr. Anas Al Kassem is part of a small group of medical personnel providing help in Syria.

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