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Activists appeal for funds to help Syrian gas attack victims

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

When inhumane evil strikes - sometimes the good in humanity rises to the challenge. In the wake of a purported sarin gas attack on civilians population in Damascus last month, aid agencies and activist are asking via social media sites for life-saving medication to help Syrian victims. More than 1,400 people were killed in the attack, believed to be the worst use of chemical weapons since Iraq's Saddam Hussein attacked the Kurds in 1988.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Activists both inside and outside Syria are using Twitter and Facebook to ask for donations to purchase atropine, a drug used to treat neurotoxic symptoms. Links to Web sites have been set up to receive donations to buy the drug for Syrian hospitals. The Medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Frontiers) says hospitals in the Damascus area ran out of the drug atropine following the attack.

One user, identifying herself as a Syrian living in Austin, Texas, tweeted: "We need lots and lots of ATROPINE, please donate and save a life now."


The email address atropineforsyria@gmail.com is being shared among users, as are links to Web sites detailing how to administer doses of the drug. In addition, a Jordan-based organization that works in humanitarian emergencies, Hemmah Volunteering Group has already purchased 50,000 doses of atropine.


Medical supply houses in Jordan started running out of atropine, Hemmah said. Several of its volunteers traveled to Lebanon to buy the drug.


Hemmah transported 10,000 doses of atropine and other medical supplies to Damascus on August 24. It has not yet managed to deliver the remaining 40,000 batches of atropine injections to Syria.


"Crossing the border on the road from Amman to Damascus is not a problem as it is held by the Free Syrian Army," Wesam Al Aladdad, Hemmah's coordinating leader said.
"Volunteers go longer routes on motorbikes or sometimes donkeys to avoid the Assad regime's checkpoints," he added, speaking through a translator.
Hemmah has also sent a $20,000 batch of general medical supplies to Syria in the wake of the attack.

MSF has also sent batches of atropine to Syria. Three hospitals reported receiving approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms after the purported attack. These symptoms included convulsions, excess saliva, abnormally constricted or pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress.


Another medical charity, Doctors of the World, is also distributing atropine to doctors in Syria. "We're facing a growing demand for atropine, in case of new chemical weapons attacks," Doctor Rafik Bedoui, medical coordinator for the aid agency's Syria program said.



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