Due to the lack of food and provisions in Syrian refugee camps across Turkey, a number of babies are born with severe disabilities - or die shortly after birth, a ministry has revealed.
Out of the 4.8 million refugees from Syria, Turkey has received more than any other country, with more than 2.7 million, according to United Nations figures. However, some arrivals are not able to access the official camps to benefit from government assistance, forcing many refugees to live in unofficial, makeshift tent camps that do not provide adequate food, water, or medical assistance.
As the cold weather sets in, the most vulnerable members of society - newborns and children - are the most affected by the desperate situation, according to Christian Aid Mission.
"Babies die in front of their parents' eyes," a ministry director told the organization. "This trauma will not come out of their memory for a long time. Almost every tent has a baby born disabled, and because they do not get adequate health care, the condition is permanent."
Earlier, a ministry director recalled one particularly heartbreaking story, where the missionaries came upon a 7-day-old newborn who was not moving.
"The baby was just sleeping without moving, and the father and mother said the baby had epilepsy, and that the hospital told them that they have to change the blood," he said. "They are village people, they have no idea what to do, and the mother of the baby kept begging for us to help them with the child."
"They said they have eight children, and they are suffering, and they didn't know how to feed them," he said. "We have to do something for them immediately, and for other suffering families, too. They have been desolate, on their own; they said, 'You see we are dying in front of the Turkish government and people, but nobody cares about us."
The director of another ministry based in Turkey shared the story of one young girl in an unofficial camp who reflected her reality in pictures she drew. The ministry had provided children with crayons, paper and gospel storybooks to help them process their trauma in light of Jesus' suffering and resurrection, the director said.
The girl had drawn one picture of soldiers shooting people, Jesus on the cross and refugees in tents crying before empty bowls. The director asked her why people were dying of starvation in the picture.
"The girl answered me, 'When Jesus died, there was no one to feed the people,'" he said. "So I said, 'Jesus did die on the cross, and He has sent us to come feed you because we are His disciples.' She smiled and then ran back to her tent as I shouted, 'Go and explain this to everyone.' As I watched her joyfully run to her tent, I hoped she had heard me."
The girl had drawn another picture Jesus feeding the 5,000 - with the ministry's supply truck nearby providing food to refugees.
"I'm not sure whether she tied that together, the trucks that had just arrived to give them all food, and our eagerness to do as Jesus did," he said.
The ministry recently visited 2,350 of the 10,000 tents in the area, as well as 220 homes - about 11,000 refugees within two months, he said. With assistance from Christian Aid Mission, workers were able to provide Bibles, flour, oil, tomato sauce, milk and other basic food items, along with clean water - however, more aid is still needed.
To learn how you can help refugee children this Christmas, visit the Christian Aid Mission website.