WHO opens conference in Syria on Iraqi refugees

The World Health Organization opened a two-day conference here Sunday to address the health needs of the more than 2 million Iraqis who have fled the country's violence. The conference brought international relief organizations together with officials from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq to discuss how to provide health care to the growing pool of Iraqi refugees. Dr. Hussein A. Gezairy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, told reporters that the goal of the conference was to "find the best ways through which we can assist the host countries and their health services, which are under high pressure." Faisal Mekdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, said his country was facing a huge health care burden from the presence of more than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees and called for outside assistance.