News

Taking necessary measures to save new-borns

12 May 2019
"All I could think of was that I was losing my child. At that moment, I felt the world just stopped. I only felt alive again when I held him in my arms" © 2018/UNFPA Iraq
"All I could think of was that I was losing my child. At that moment, I felt the world just stopped. I only felt alive again when I held him in my arms" © 2018/UNFPA Iraq

Nermin was only 21 years old when she was uprooted from her Syrian hometown of Qamishli in 2012. With her parents and siblings, she walked away from the life she had made for herself, running from a devastating war that engulfed the country, and travelled for hundreds of kilometres looking for refuge in Duhok, a city within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

“I never thought I would have to start over. I was studying Arabic literature at university and was planning to become a teacher. I had it all figured out, except that God had different plans for me,” she said. “The war forced me to choose between my dream and my life. Even if it meant spending my uncertain future in a tent, the choice was evident and heart-breaking.”

“I had a difficult time adjusting to my new life. I would barely sleep during the night, and I would force myself to stay awake because the moment I close my eyes, I would see the faces of all those who were killed in front of me. It was haunting. I felt it was the end of the world for me and that I was never going to have a normal life again,” she explained.  

Nermin lived with her family for one year before her fate changed: “I was sad for a long time. I couldn’t comprehend that I was never going to see my friends, colleagues and loved ones. Against all the odds, one day, as I was reading a book outside our tent, I met a man, and I fell in love that same moment,” she explained.

“A few months later we got married and settled in Domiz 2 Camp in Duhok. We now have two beautiful children: Salim, who is three years and a half, and Samer, almost two years,” she added. “I am also currently pregnant,” she continued, cradling her belly with affection. The soon-to-be mother of three lives in a tent in Domiz 2 camp, home to close to 8,700 Syrian refugees. In the camp, UNFPA operates one maternity unit, a reproductive health clinic, a youth centre and a women’s social centre. She gave birth to her second child, Samer, at the UNFPA-supported maternity ward, one of the eight health facilities funded by Norway.

“I get very emotional recalling that day,” explains Nermin. “The medical team at the hospital saved my child. Samer’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. The doctor kept reassuring me that it wasn’t serious, but all I could think of was that I was losing my child. At that moment, I felt the world just stopped and the few minutes that passed felt like an eternity. I couldn’t feel my heart beating anymore and broke into heaving sobs while the medical team was asking me to breathe. I only felt alive again when I held Samer in my arms. He was so small and beautiful.”

“After my delivery, I sat with the gynaecologist who explained to me the importance of regular visits to the health clinic during pregnancy. Now that I am pregnant with my third child, who I hope is a girl, I conduct regular visits to the reproductive health clinic to anticipate any possible problems to improve the chances of having a healthy baby and safe delivery.”

“This, however, will be my last child, for now,” she added. “After I give birth, my husband and I agreed to visit the clinic and receive family planning sessions. Life is complicated in the camp, in the tent, and this is not the environment where I wish to raise my children.”

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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

For more information or media inquiries please contact: Salwa Moussa, Communications Specialist, smoussa@unfpa.org