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Syrian mother and baby rescued twice in three days

BBC News logo BBC News 2/13/2023

A Syrian mother and her newborn baby are recovering after being rescued from the rubble of her earthquake-hit home twice in a week, a charity says.

Dima was seven months pregnant when last Monday's earthquake caused part of her house in Jindayris to fall down.

She suffered minor injuries and later gave birth to a boy, Adnan, at a hospital in Afrin supported by the Syrian American Medical Society (Sams).

They returned to the house, only for it to collapse fully three days later.

Adnan was brought back to Afrin's al-Shifa Hospital by rescuers in a critical condition, suffering from severe dehydration and jaundice, while Dima was treated for a serious lower limb injury.

Dr Abdulkarim Hussein al-Ibrahim, a paediatrician, told the BBC via WhatsApp on Monday that the baby was responding well to treatment.

"Adnan's condition... has significantly improved," he said. "We are just feeding him and [providing] the rest of his needs through intravenous drips."

Video footage released by Sams showed Adnan sleeping peacefully inside an incubator with his wrist hooked up to a drip.

Dima has been discharged from hospital once again and is living in a tent along with her husband, Abdul Majid, and their nine other children. She has been travelling to Afrin to visit Adnan in hospital every day.

Her family was forced to return to her partially destroyed home after she gave birth because there was no alternative shelter available in Jindayris, one of the worst-hit towns in opposition-held north-western Syria.

They have also not received any other aid since the earthquake, like thousands of others who have been affected.

Even before the disaster, 4.1 million people - most of them women and children - were relying on humanitarian assistance to survive in the region, which is the last bastion of the jihadists and rebels who have been fighting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad for 12 years.

But as of Sunday, only 52 lorries carrying aid from UN agencies had arrived from Turkey via Bab al-Hawa in Idlib province - the sole border crossing that the UN is authorised to use to deliver humanitarian assistance.

The deliveries had been scheduled before the earthquake and were delayed by damaged roads and other logistical issues, which meant they have not included the heavy machinery and other specialist equipment needed by the White Helmets, whose first responders operate in opposition-held areas.

Dr Ibrahim said there was an acute shortage of the medicines, other medical supplies, beds and blankets needed to treat the many injured people still being pulled from the rubble.

"No hospital has the capacity to accommodate this large number of injuries," he warned. "[Everywhere] is full."

The chairman of the Sams Foundation, Dr Basel Termanini, said the lack of shelter and access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services was also a major concern for the medical relief organisation, whose facilities in the region have helped more than 2,000 earthquake victims.

"We can treat the women after trauma or after delivery, but they need to go back to a safe environment with minimum housing, nutrition and clean water," he told the BBC.

"Unfortunately, this is in general lacking in north-western Syria, due to limited resources and the markedly delayed aid coming from the only lifeline of Bab al-Hawa crossing."

Dr Termanini accused the UN and the international community of being "quite guilty of poor planning and failed execution".

Sams was currently working with the White Helmets and the Syrian Forum, a consortium of non-profit organisations assisting people in the region, to "fill in the gaps" in shelter and nutrition, he added.

"But the needs are massive and the international community need to get their act together to avoid a major humanitarian crisis."


More than 35,000 people are known to have been killed in Syria and Turkey since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey.

The UN has said 4,300 deaths and 7,600 injuries have been reported across north-western Syria - more than 800 higher than the combined death tolls published over the weekend by the Syrian government and the White Helmets.

During a visit to the government-held city of Aleppo on Monday, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told reporters that the initial "rescue phase" following the disaster was "drawing to a close".

"The humanitarian phase - the urgency of providing shelter, psychosocial care, food, schooling and a sense of the future for these people - that's our obligation now," he said.

Mr Griffiths also said the UN hoped to deliver aid to opposition-held areas across the front lines from the government's territory, something which has rarely happened during the country's 12-year civil war.

The UN has said the dominant jihadist alliance Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has held up "cross-line" deliveries since the earthquake. But HTS has rejected the allegation and accused the UN of "politicising the emergency response".


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