Iraq

A Syrian girl is born in northern Iraq

By Chris Niles

There are more than 200,000 refugees in Iraq. One of them is 3-month-old Jian, who was born just one day after her mother arrived in Arbat refugee camp in the north of the country.

SULIMANIYAH, Iraq, 6 December 2013 – Baby Jian came into the world just one day after her mother arrived in Arbat refugee camp in northern Iraq.

“She’s a beautiful baby,” says UNICEF WASH Consultant Atheer Al Yaseen.

Mr. Al Yaseen first met the young mother-to-be when she was sheltering in a school for a week, before Arbat camp was established. “She had walked a long distance, and I could see that she was very dehydrated,” he recalls.

The morning after arriving in the camp, the woman’s husband called Mr. Al Yaseen to say that his wife was having contractions 3–4 minutes apart. He knew there was no time for an ambulance to get to the camp on time, so Mr. Al Yaseen put the couple in a UNICEF car and drove to the hospital in Sulimaniyah. They negotiated security checkpoints, and by the time they arrived, baby Jian had been born.

“I asked her to name the baby after me,” Mr. Al Yaseen, who helped deliver the baby, jokes. “But she turned out to be a girl.”

The young mother stayed in hospital one night before returning to the camp. Mr. Al Yaseen, himself the father of two, visits the family regularly and takes pride in his ‘adopted’ daughter, who is now three months old.

Mr Al Yaseen, who is from Baghdad, has a special bond with the camp because he was once a refugee. When he was 2 years old, his family was forced to leave Iraq. They walked all the way to Kuwait. He has spent most of his life abroad.

“I wish I could do more, but so much is out of my control,” he says. “I can’t get the refugees jobs or money. I have no influence over government policy. But, in the end, I’m doing my best,” he says.


 

 

UNICEF Photography: Syrian crisis

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