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Islamic Relief’s UK Director sees misery of Syrian camps and condemns ‘woefully inadequate’ international response

Islamic Relief’s UK Director sees misery of Syrian camps and condemns ‘woefully inadequate’ international response

“Around 6,000 refugees are streaming out of Syria every day,” says Jehangir Malik. “They are fleeing not only from the horrors of war but also from the misery of displaced people’s camps where there is not enough food and water to sustain them in the 40-degree heat.

“The UN has described this as the worst humanitarian crisis since the Rwandan genocide, but as with Rwanda there is no UN presence where it is needed most and the international community seems powerless to bring an end to the suffering. I wish the G8 leaders had been in Syria with me to witness the anguish and despair etched on people’s faces, a terrible indictment of the woefully inadequate international response to this conflict. Fresh diplomatic impetus is urgently needed to  create ‘humanitarian corridors’ for delivering more and better coordinated aid, to strengthen the international presence inside Syria and to bring about peace talks.”

Jehangir Malik travelled into Syria from Turkey, where the base for Islamic Relief’s extensive relief operations inside Syria is located. He passed hundreds of exhausted Syrians trekking towards the border before visiting a new displaced camp and a makeshift hospital operating in what used to be a restaurant.

“The camp I visited was only set up ten days ago and it is already home to over a thousand people, including 600 children,” says Jehangir. “Camps like this are appearing everywhere like pop-up settlements, and food and water are severely rationed. People were so grateful for the Ramadan food packs we distributed, but you can’t fail to notice how little traffic is carrying aid in, compared to the human tide heading in the opposite direction.

“In happier times the Bab al Hawa hospital was a restaurant, but now it is full to overflowing with casualties of the conflict and has treated 10,000 people in just six months. On ward after ward I saw people with sickening wounds and missing limbs, some screaming in pain and all being treated in very basic conditions. The medical supplies Islamic Relief has provided here have saved many lives, but the situation is bleak.

“I was speechless for much of the time – what words of comfort can you offer to a weeping man whose son was dead on arrival at the hospital with a bullet in his head, or a 15-year-old boy wracked with pain by his shattered leg after his house was shelled, or an elderly man who has lost three generations of his family?”


For more information, to arrange an interview with Jehangir Malik or to obtain footage or photographs from his visit, contact Martin Cottingham ([email protected] / 07702-940982).


  • In 2012 Islamic Relief assisted 1.1 million Syrians with food, shelter, medical care and sanitation: 800,000 of them inside Syria and the rest in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. In the first five months of 2013 we assisted a further 600,000 Syrians, stepping up our operations in response to the deepening crisis.
  • Islamic Relief has provided food and other supplies to the new camp that Jehangir Malik visited. It has also provided a steady stream of medicines, surgical supplies, x-ray machines and other equipment to the Bab Al Hawa hospital – one of 30 field hospitals and 60 clinics we are supporting across the country.
  • During Ramadan Islamic Relief is running a War on Hunger appeal in the UK, highlighting the humanitarian needs of the poor and vulnerable in countries ravaged by conflict. A video featuring stories of refugees and the assistance Islamic Relief is providing has been shown at a series of fundraising dinners across the country, raising over £500,000 for Syria so far.

Following Jehangir Malik’s visit, Islamic Relief is joining a coalition of aid agencies that are collecting signatures to petition Presidents Obama and Putin to step up their efforts to bring about peace talks in the Syrian conflict: see

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