Makeshift Turkish border hospital treats Aleppo evacuees

An Aleppo refugee tells his story.
An Aleppo refugee tells his story.

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    An Aleppo refugee tells his story.

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An Aleppo refugee tells his story. 00:57

Story highlights

  • A Turkish NGO runs the rudimentary hospital
  • Patients include those blinded by shrapnel or needing amputation
  • A father who lost nearly all his family says 'I don't want to go back'

Cilvegozu Border Crossing, Turkey (CNN)Nestled along the hilly, rock-strewn Turkish-Syrian border, Dr. Salim is trying to save lives.

He and a small team of doctors, supported by a Turkish nongovernmental organization, have set up a small makeshift hospital to treat people who have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo. It's the kind of place you'd never know was a hospital if you just drove by -- a small, non-descript building, less than five stories high, perched on a hill surrounded by twisting, concrete pathways.
Dr. Salim asked CNN to not use his last name, for security reasons. He said the wounded include patients who have been blinded by shrapnel, have broken arms and legs and gashes on their heads, and in some cases have needed limbs amputated.
A patient is wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher.
CNN was not allowed to film outside the hospital and, while inside, was allowed to film only on one of its floors. The floor itself was arranged the same way you'd see a hospital floor in a western capital, though significantly smaller, with fewer than 10 rooms.
A large white board on the wall listed the patients who had been admitted, along with their condition and supervising doctor. One room had four bearded, middle-aged men sitting on hospital beds. Their injuries ranged from broken bones to large lacerations.
The NGO said the hospital treats only civilians and not militants from eastern Aleppo, like those from the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front or Ahrar al-Sham. CNN could not independently verify whether the patients were civilians or belonged to any militant groups.

Children among the patients

Of the hundred or so patients they've received, hospital staff said 30 have been children.
One of those patients was Muhammad Hamza, who said he lived in eastern Aleppo while airstrikes were being carried out. Lying next to him on the rickety hospital bed was his 6-year-old son Yusuf, whose sobs were so loud they could be heard from the room next door.
Muhammad Hamza says he and his 6-year-old son were the only survivors of an airstirke.
"My family died in the wake of an airstrike," Hamza explained. "All my family died except for this child with me."
As Hamza spoke, his son buried his face into his father's side, looking for comfort.
"My child cries for his mom. I told him your mom is dead."

First hope for recovery

The hospital is run by a Turkish NGO called Insna Hak ve Hurriyetleri Insani Yardim Vakfi, or the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief. It's a religious organization that says it has a presence in more than 100 countries.
All of the hospital's rudimentary supplies, like lights for examinations, basic trauma equipment, surgical lights and medical supplies are provided by Turkey. The area is secured by Turkish border police and the Free Syrian Army, which receives support from the Turkish government and military.
Because the hospital has only rudimentary equipment to treat patients, those in the most critical condition are transferred along the Syrian-Turkish border, switching ambulances at different checkpoints, then rushed to the main hospital in the Turkish town of Reyhanlii. CNN witnessed more than a dozen ambulances crossing the border, all with sirens blaring, ferrying patients across.
For many of the wounded who have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo, this may be their first stop on their road to recovery.
Hamza arrived here just days earlier. He still sat in a kind of shock, bearing the heavy burden of knowing he is now responsible for raising Yusuf on his own.
When asked if he wants to return to Aleppo one day, he didn't hesitate.
"I don't want to go back to Aleppo. ... I don't have anybody left in Aleppo. I only have this child left. Do you want me to return and cause him to die?"