Aisha with her new baby, Rawan. Credit: UNFPA/Syria
Like thousands of people in Damascus, the Syrian capital, Abdulahadi, Aisha and their four children fled their home when their neighbourhood came under intense bombardment. Without proper access to medical services, Aisha, who was in her last month of pregnancy, was extremely concerned for her unborn baby’s health.
The family walked 7 kilometres to a public school that had been converted into a temporary emergency shelter by a local NGO. There they received food, water and shelter, which was a small room they shared with other families. Despite the support, Aisha remained worried that her family would not be able to afford the cost of a hospital delivery.
The conflict in Syria has affected an estimated 2 million people, including 1 million who have been forced from their homes. Families are sheltering in 330 public schools across Syria, while more than 130,000 Syrians are registered as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
Despite serious security challenges, UN agencies are working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and 40 local organizations to respond to this crisis. With a UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
allocation of nearly US$3.7 million, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
has provided life-saving maternal and child-health services to displaced people in Syria and neighbouring countries.
When Aisha was ready to give birth, local and international UNFPA staff made sure that she reached the hospital safely and received the medical care she needed to deliver a healthy baby girl, Rawan. The delivery was free of charge.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I had given birth at the school,” Aisha said.
“I’m so touched. In these difficult circumstances, we didn’t expect to have such great help,” added her husband, Abdulahadi.
CERF funding has also enabled UNFPA to provide over 2,000 hygiene kits to women this year. And working in partnership with the Syrian Family Planning Association, UNFPA has distributed over 2,000 vouchers for reproductive health services in local hospitals and clinics.
“CERF funds have been timely and critical to help improve access for thousands of women to maternal and reproductive health services, including emergency deliveries, in areas where there is conflict,” said UNFPA’s Syria Representative, Laila Baker. “CERF funds have enabled us to buy and deliver life-saving medical supplies for mobile health teams.”
Since May 2011, CERF has provided more than $43 million to humanitarian partners in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria as part of regional relief efforts to help the most vulnerable people.
Reporting by UNFPA Syria