- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Brown University is seeking the return of a Syrian student who is stuck overseas because of President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, a dean said Tuesday.

Khaled Almilaji is now in Turkey while his pregnant wife is in the United States. The 35-year-old doctor received a scholarship to earn a master’s degree in public health at Brown University so he could learn how to rebuild his country’s health system.

Terrie Fox Wetle, dean of the university’s School of Public Health, said Brown is contacting humanitarian organizations and trying to figure out the most effective path to help Almilaji return to his studies.

She said he’s an excellent student and one of many “good, good people who got caught up in a terrible situation.”

Almilaji coordinated a campaign that vaccinated 1.4 million Syrian children and provided medical care during Syria’s civil war. He told The Associated Press in an October interview that when Syria is stable enough, he wants to return and work on preventing diseases and other health problems, since resources for treating ailments will continue to be scarce.

“It’s just very hard to understand why he’s not with us, pursuing what we felt was very important work,” Wetle said.

Almilaji went to Turkey for a brief trip after the fall semester. He said he needed to check on the team of Canadian doctors he’s working with to establish safe health facilities in Syria and train medical workers, as well as to extend his residency permit in Turkey so he can return there after he completes his studies.

He moved to Providence in August on a student visa with his wife. Almilaji said Syrians have suffered enough and the order takes away the opportunity for people, like himself, to complete their studies.

Schools in the U.S. have worked for years to widen their exchanges with scholars in the Middle East. The ban bars travelers from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.

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