Nour Akhras is a Syrian American pediatric infectious disease physician and author of “Just One: A Journey of Perseverance and Conviction,” a book highlighting the Syrian refugee crisis.
Akhras says there was a significant cultural and attitude change toward American Muslims after the 9/11 terror attacks and Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.
“It was the height of the refugee crisis in Europe. And there was a lot of anti-immigrant, anti-refugee sentiment,” Akhras says.
“Just One” highlights the challenges Syrian refugees face stemming from the civil war in Syria that started in 2011.
“There’s no consistent news about Syria. I feel like with no end in sight, these refugees are never going to go home. I thought if I write a story about it, that we’ll put it back on the map,” Akhras explains.
She saw people in dire situations, such as having to choose between living in outdoor camps or warehouses, which oftentimes exacerbate health conditions.
“Any of us could be them and any of them could be us. As Americans, we always think that conflict is over there and that could never happen to us — whether we look at Syria or Ukraine or even Sudan — all of these people never expected what happened in their country,” Akhras says.
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Akhras will never forget the stories refugees have shared with her during her missions.
“I told them that I was going to do anything I could to help them, so one of those ways was to share their stories,” Akhras explains.
Akhras believes Americans should be more open-minded about sponsoring refugees — whether they are from Ukraine or Syria.
“This past year, the United States has accepted over 200,000 Ukrainian refugees — in the past 12 years of the Syrian crisis, less than 30,000 people have been accepted.”