For Immediate Release


February 11, 2015


Washington, DC – SAMS mourns the loss of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19. All three were shot and killed on Tuesday evening at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus. 


Deah Barakat was studying dentistry at the University of North Carolina, while Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha were attending North Carolina State University. Barakat and Abu-Salha were newly married as of December 27.

Barakat, a Syrian-American, was scheduled to go to Reyhanli, Turkey this summer with 10 other dental students to treat Syrian refugees as part of a project co-organized by SAMS. He had been generously raising money for SAMS’s dental programs in Turkey through a crowd-funding campaign called “Project Refugee Smiles,” and had previously been a supporter of SAMS.


In the online campaign video, Barakat said, “Have you ever felt helpless about the situation in Syria and felt like you can’t do anything about it? Well this is your opportunity to help. This summer, I’m embarking on a trip to Turkey with 10 dentists to help Syrian refugees in need of urgent dental care… Let’s relieve their pain.” SAMS currently supports 21 dental clinics in both Turkey and Syria, in which 85% of patients require immediate urgent care. Such care would be impossible without the dedication and generosity of volunteers like Barakat.


Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of SAMS, said, “I send my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha. Our prayers are with them during this devastating time. They were exemplary students and activists who believed in humanity and helping people in need.”


Yusor Abu-Salha was on track to graduate from North Carolina State in December with a degree in biological sciences. Her sister Razan Abu-Salha was studying architecture and environmental design at North Carolina State. In addition to their generous work on Syria, Barakat and his wife also worked for a project in Durham that provided dental supplies and food to homeless people.


Dr. Sahloul continued, saying, “Deah and Yusor felt that they had to do their part to help the Syrian people suffering, and fight the apathy of rest of the world. Their remarkable work and lives will never be forgotten.”


SAMS will never forget the compassion and generosity of these three extraordinary young people. Their lives impacted the world and all who knew them.