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Local Syrian Native Heartbroken Over War, Concerned About Family

Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images
Syrians flee as country is being torn apart by war

Doctor Adel Korkor was born and raised in Syria but came to the U.S. several decades ago to continue his medical training. He makes Milwaukee his home. Korkor says he often tries to tune out the news about Syria's civil war - the thousands it's killing, the many it has turned into refugees fleeing toward Europe and perhaps its narrowing door, but he can’t stop thinking about his homeland.

“I think there’s nothing more devastating that when, for one to see their homeland being turned in to rubble and being photographed and seeing it every day.  And just imagining the misery and the suffering that the people are going through,” Korkor says.

Amongst those suffering is Korkor’s sister. He says that while the rest of his family began to leave Syria in 2010 just before the war really started, his sister stayed in Damascus with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. Korkor says his sister has a green card and could come to the U.S., but she refuses to leave her family behind.

He says he talks to her often.

“I mean almost…I’m on the phone or Facebook interacting with them almost every day, every other day,” Korkor says.

Korkor says his sister is fearful.

“She is, I mean she’s concerned for her safety. You know everything has gotten so expensive. Food has skyrocketed in price and it’s not as available. Energy is not as available, electricity they have a couple hours a day. It’s not safe for her granddaughter to get to school. Every day is a challenge,” Korkor says.

Korkor says he’s happy President Obama has agreed to open the door to 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next 12 months, but claims it is not enough.

“The U.S. response, not only at the level of the government, but the level of the society and people related to that disaster has really been very muted in my opinion. I don’t want to put a bias toward it, but it’s hard not to see the bias. These people are Arabs and they are Muslims for the most part, although there are a lot of Christians there that are fleeing. But for some reason I think our view of that part of the world is always equated to co called terrorism. And if you look like an Arab and especially if you’re a Muslim, you’re a terrorist,” Korkor says.

Korkor says that while the Syrian population here in the Milwaukee area is in the thousands, not much has been organized in the way of help. Though a few weeks ago, there was a fundraiser to help the medical mission on the ground in Syria and refugee camps. Korkor laments that he doesn’t know what will bring an end to the fighting, because so many factions are involved.

“It has really no end in sight and I think political solutions are becoming increasingly more difficult. I think there’s so much bloodshed and so much destruction, there’s no organizational structure,” Korkor says.

As far as Syria’s future is concerned, Korkor says he wants his country back.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.