Lafayette volunteer says Syrian refugee crisis getting worse, but people can help

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LAFAYETTE, Colo. -- "There were children without gloves or hats. The water was frozen. The toilets filled with frozen human waste. It was hell."

That’s how Harrison Feind described conditions in Nea Kavala refugee camp in northern Greece.

He spent two weeks there in January volunteering to help Syrian children.

"Their whole childhood is surrounded by bombs, by blood, by bullets," Feind said.

The 26-year-old accountant from Lafayette had no special training and no real language skills but said he found a way to volunteer.

"After hearing about all these issues day after day after day, I just decided to heck with it and so once I got approval from my manager at my job, [I] bought a ticket and I went over there.," Feind said.

It began with a Google search for volunteer organizations helping with the refugee crisis and led him to Norwegian based A Drop in the Ocean. And what he saw has inspired him to encourage others to do the same.

“Walking across the camp, it was subzero temperatures and I saw this little boy couldn't have been more than 4 or 5 years old with no shoes no hat no gloves carrying some frozen food over to his respective home and you get the chills just thinking about that," Feind said.

One of dozens of camps scattered across the region, this one has 600 people living in shipping containers each with multiple families.

Last year, roughly 12,000 Syrian refugees were admitted to the U.S.

Now migrants from Syria and certain other mostly Muslim countries are essentially in limbo.

"We need to continuously accept these refugees because at the end of the day, we're the same citizens all across the world," Feind said. "We're not Americans, we're not Syrians. It's not a political statement, it's a humanitarian statement."

He said he became inspired to encourage others to volunteer because the need is so great.

"What's happening right now, it's not going to end anytime soon," he said. "The big takeaway that I had was we as Americans need to stop referring to them as refugees we need to refer to them as humans and they're just like us."

Feind said he plans to return to the region as soon as he can and doesn't believe the American media is giving a clear picture of how big the crisis is.

Or how many civilians are being killed or wounded by forces from several nations, including the United States, who are targeting members of ISIS in Syria.

He said those trapped in the camps waiting for clearance only want one thing.

"Coming here to the United States where they're not really welcomed by the new administration and that's disheartening," Feind said.