09/06/2013 21:44 EDT | Updated 11/06/2013 05:12 EST

B.C. man sends aid to war-torn Syria

A British Columbia man is risking his life to provide medical aid to his homeland of Syria.

Riam El-Safadi has collected thousands of dollars in supplies to try to alleviate suffering in the war-torn nation and even travelled to Syria to deliver those supplies, even though the country prohibits it.

"I've seen at least seven people killed in front of me," he said. "I've seen one mortar shell land about 60 feet from me, and I thought I was going to die."

El-Safadi, who travelled with Canadian and American doctors to Syria last September, has been sending medical supplies, hospital beds, surgical tools, and even body bags, as a volunteer with the non-profit group Canadian Relief for Syria.

"We have doctors waiting at the border," said El-Safadi, who left Syria 20 years ago. "I send them an inventory list, they know exactly what is to come."

Following news of an alleged chemical weapons attack, the UN now estimates the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has led to the deaths of more than 100,000 people.

As well, the UN refugee agency released figures Monday showing that nearly one-third of the population — about seven million Syrians — has been displaced since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper blamed the alleged chemical weapons attack on the Assad regime, but said Canada will not take on its own mission in Syria.