A Small Miracle: 5000th Baby Born at Clinic for Syrian Refugees

Posted by Anne C. Richard
March 1, 2016
A doctor is seen checking on a newborn baby at the maternity clinic in Jordan’s Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees. [UNFPA photo]

She is tiny and beautiful. She is named Rima after the doctor who delivered her. Her joyful family threw a party with traditional Syrian treats like cinnamon drinks and date cookies. 

The maternity clinic where she was born is hosting a celebration too – because Rima is the five thousandth baby born since this birthing center opened in June of 2013. And in those nearly three years, not a single mother has died.

This would be laudable record anywhere. But this bustling clinic is just a humble series of aluminum trailers, in the middle of a barren desert, serving a population that has been dispossessed by the most brutal conflict in a generation. It is the maternity clinic in Jordan’s Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees.

Rima’s parents and thousands of others fled across the border in 2013 after the Assad regime began shelling, dropping barrel bombs and laying siege to Syrian cities and villages, including their hometown of Dera’a in southern Syria. 

Baby Rima, who was the 500th baby born at the maternity clinic in Jordan’s Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, is pictured with her mother and big sister at their home. [UNFPA Photo]

The war has not spared women and girls. Even those who have escaped the regime’s fury and ISIL’s barbarity have not always found safety. Husbands and fathers have disappeared, families have been scattered, and years in exile have stripped many refugees of their fortunes, their dignity, and their patience. Refugee women and girls face a heightened risk of gender based violence, domestic abuse, early and forced marriage, unplanned pregnancies, and unsafe deliveries.  

The United States is working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) inside Syria, in neighboring countries, and throughout the region to protect and empower Syrian women and girls. 

UNFPA manages clinics like the one in Za’atari, where a full staff of obstetricians, gynecologists, pediatricians, nurses, and midwives delivers babies around the clock. 

A new bornbaby is examined by the doctor at the UNFPA supported clinic in Zaatri Camp. [UNFPA Photo]

UNFPA also supports pre-natal and post-natal care, inside and outside of refugee camps. And it funds reproductive health services and education, and programs that help prevent early and forced marriage and gender based violence. 

The birth of little Rima, and 4,999 other children, is a reminder that even amid hardship and loss, love can prevail and life can renew itself. It shows how a few dedicated people staffing a small clinic can bring joy to thousands of people who might otherwise know only grief. It is proof that even in the face of Syria’s terrible calamity, a bit of kindness and compassion can make a huge difference, helping to keep thousands of mothers and their children alive -- and producing a small miracle named Rima. 

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State.

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