In Syria, another child is born

The residents of stadium IDP camp in Syria are celebrating the birth of a new baby boy. Muhamed was born yesterday, just hours before a more famous birth in Britain. Like his Royal birth twin, he is his 15 year old mum’s and 20 year old dad’s first baby. His parents are delighted, he weighed in at 2.8kg and started breastfeeding almost straight away. Today he is waking up to his life as an internally displaced person in Syria. He is one of more than three million children in Syria whose parents have fled with their families from their homes, land and jobs.


Little Muhamed is a special baby. His mother was cared for in the new primary health clinic opened just a month ago by World Vision in a Syrian town that has seen its population doubled by the recent influx of internally displaced people (IDPs). She started her labour in the clinic but had to be rushed to a nearby midwifery centre when complications arose just before the birth.


In fact Muhamed is the second baby born this week to the IDP community here. The first, a girl, was born in a hospital a difficult hour’s journey away, World Vision paid the transport and hospital cost.


The new clinic provides care for all though four in ten of the patients the two doctors, nurse and midwife have seen are under five. These young children have two thirds of the diarrhoea, half of the respiratory tract infections and one third of the skin diseases that are being treated. Together these three forms of acute infection make up 55% of all the problems seen by the clinic staff.


Dr Hussein, World Vision’s paediatrician in Syria, said that this pattern of ill health is typical of the local community at this time of year. Infections are due to high temperatures, scarce water and poor personal and food hygiene. The overcrowded conditions in the IDP camp where 1,200 people live on the space of a football pitch, make these problems worse.


World Vision has been rehabilitating the water treatment and supply system for the district that is now home to 40,000 IDPs and 30,000 residents. New latrine and shower units have been added in the IDP camps and communal kitchens have been constructed for the camps so that people stop cooking in their tents, which is a big fire risk and to help improve food hygiene.


Andrew Jalanski the World Vision response manager for Syria says “The work we are now doing is just a start in trying to meet the needs of these children caught up in the crisis. We are expanding our work to other areas as quickly as we can. The needs are so great wherever we look. We have to go carefully though because this is a very difficult environment to work in as the security situation keeps changing.”


The World Vision Syria crisis response works in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and has served over 200,000 IDPs, refugees and members of host communities so far. Baby Muhamed is one more beneficiary, he will certainly not be the last.