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Activitsts In San Diego Stepping Up Efforts To Help Syrian Refugees

Above: A line of Syrian refugee women, some carrying children, cross into Jordan from southern Syria. The outflow this year has been staggering.

Syria's humanitarian crisis hit a grim milestone this week: the number of Syrian refugees who have fled their homeland has reached one million. Syrian-Americans in San Diego are stepping up efforts to help save lives.

Aired 3/8/13 on KPBS News.

Syria

The United Nations reported this week approximately 8,000 Syrians a day are leaving the war-torn country, and more than half of them are children under the age of 11. They’re fleeing to overcrowded refugee camps in neighboring countries where food and medicine are scarce.

Hussam Mihtar, a phychiatrist in La Jolla and board member of the Syrian American Medical Society is helping with efforts to send over medical equipment, medicine and staff to help save lives at the refugee camps.

"The need right now is to send medical equipment for surgical procedures, surgical tools to help the grossly injured, and antibiotics and vaccines for the children," said Mihtar.

Mihtar said his homeland is spiraling toward a catastrophic disaster. He said his brother and sister still live in Damascas and haven’t fled yet because of the dire conditions at the camps, but he said the risk of staying put is high and they are hostages in their own home.

The San Diego Chapter of the Syrian American Council is holding a prayer event at Santee Lakes Regional Park on March 17 at 12 noon to commemorate two years of conflict in Syria.

The uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in March 2011 with peaceful protests, but soon became a civil war. The conflict has claimed more than 70,000 lives.

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