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Conditions At Refugee Camps In Syria Are Deplorable, Aid Worker Says

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's hear next about Syrian refugees. To be more precise, they are refugees within Syria, people forced out of their homes but still within the country. The United Nations has an incredible number - it says more than 6 million people are displaced in Syria, more than a quarter of the country's population. Here's a man who's helping some refugees live in tents.

MOHAMMED: Every tent has (unintelligible). The children have no toys. The children are barefooted in the mud. Put yourself in our situation. What could you do?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That is the voice of 31-year-old Mohammed. He's a field officer for the aid organization Mercy Corps. He wouldn't he give his last name for fear of being targeted. He is in Syria, after all. But he did say he is in the northern part of the country. In the last two weeks, he says thousands more Syrians have fled their homes.

MOHAMMED: They have sadness in their eyes. They suffer a lot. And I am one of them because I'm also displaced. So we miss our world. We miss our kitchen. We miss our streets. We miss everything in our lost lives.

MONTAGNE: Mohammed, in his lost life, now delivers water, food and hygiene products and, when he can manage it, a smile.

MOHAMMED: In the Arab world, we say that smiling is charity, so we try to draw smiles at least on the faces of children. And we have to adapt. Everything will be OK, don't worry. The coming days will be OK. You have to be strong, and we will best this tragic situation.

INSKEEP: You know, Mohammed talks about home with a touch of hope. Maybe, he says, we will return in the future. But he says most days, living in these camps feels like waiting for Godot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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