"They've been through so much ... They tell you about their brother or wife dying, like it's a just a normal story. It is so heartbreaking, but it is just another story for them, after so much trauma."
Karen McGrath, with aid agency Act For Peace, has just returned from a fortnight in Jordan with Syrian refugees. The Australian aid worker and her organisation have worked in some of the most desperate and difficult humanitarian crises around the world, but McGrath told The Huffington Post Australia her experiences in Jordan were some of the most heartwrenching she had witnessed.
Inside the camp
"It is unbelievable the trauma these families have gone through. These are just everyday families, who remind me of ordinary people in Australia. It is just immense," she said.
"We met a lady who had to walk for two weeks with her three young children to the border of Syria. They were being shot at the entire time, they saw people die and be shot along the way. Her younger sister was eight months pregnant and she miscarried with days to go, from the psychological and physical trauma."
A woman and child inside the camp
Act For Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, works with local partner organisations in humanitarian hotspots around the world to deliver food, healthcare, basic items like hygiene products and blankets, education and psychological support. It claims more than one million Syrians are now taking refuge in Jordan.
McGrath said their partner organisation in Jordan had been working with Syrian refugees since the crisis began in 2012, watching as the attention of the media and the world waxed and waned over time; for example, the explosion of interest and outpouring of grief over the drowning death of young boy Aylan Kurdi in September, followed by another current period of wavering attention.
She said the crisis in Syria was as dire as ever and pleaded for the spotlight to swing back to the region.
"The saddest thing as an aid agency is when you see the ebb and flow of media, the growing or ceasing of public interest. The need is as great or even more than ever in host countries like Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon; they are doing amazingly well at supporting refugees, but there's only so much they can do," McGrath said.
"The thing that's a shame in Australia is that we’re a country of wealth and opportunity, we have the ability to help and the Australian public is helping and donating a lot, but it is important to keep that going. The need hasn't gone away. It isn't about donating once, it's a need for long term to give people the ability to rebuild their lives."
"Everybody I spoke to just wanted to go home. There wasn't an overwhelming desire of going to another country or Australia. They wanted to go back home and keep their family safe, but it doesn't seem like that will happen any time soon."
To learn more about Act For Peace's work in Syria, click here.
Pictures Inside The Camp: