Syrian woman gives birth to quintuplets weeks after fleeing Iraq

News Stories, 20 August 2014

© UNHCRPhoto
The five newborn babies take a nap in a Qamishli hospital in north-east Syria.

QAMISHLI, Syria, August 20 (UNHCR) A 27-year-old Syrian woman has given birth to quintuplets in northern Syria weeks after fleeing her home in neighbouring Iraq on foot.

Tamam, an ethnic Yazidi, gave birth by Caesarean section last Thursday at a hospital in the city of Qamishli. "She gave birth in the seventh month of her pregnancy, but thank God the mother and babies are all in good health," a doctor at the private hospital told UNHCR. The five babies have not yet had their births registered.

The woman, a Syrian national, is among tens of thousands of people who have fled violence in northern Iraq since June, including many who have sought shelter in Syria. They include tens of thousands of Yazidis from Iraq's Sinjar area.

Tamam moved to the city of Mosul last year after marrying an Iraqi man. They escaped after armed militants captured the city, Iraq's second largest, last June. "We had to walk for two days before we reached the [Syrian] border," she said, adding that she and her husband were with seven other Yazidi families and only had a bottle of water to share.

She is currently staying at her parents' house near Qamishli and worries about how to take care of her newborn babies and meet their needs. "We will not be able to provide nappies and milk for five children because of our poor financial situation," she revealed. Tamam's husband is jobless and none of her siblings work. UNHCR has provided her with nappies, sanitary napkins and a cash grant.

UNHCR is coordinating the UN response in Syria to the Yazidi refugee crisis. Since August 8, UNHCR and other UN and humanitarian agencies have been delivering life-saving supplies to everyone within reach.

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Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

UNHCR and its partners estimate that out of a total population of 26 million, some 1.9 million Iraqis are currently displaced internally and more than 2 million others have fled to nearby countries. While many people were displaced before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and general violence. Since January 2006, UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 Iraqis have been uprooted and that 40,000 to 50,000 continue to flee their homes every month. UNHCR anticipates there will be approximately 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of 2007. The refugee agency and its partners have provided emergency assistance, shelter and legal aid to displaced Iraqis where security has allowed.

In January 2007, UNHCR launched an initial appeal for US$60 million to fund its Iraq programme. Despite security issues for humanitarian workers inside the country, UNHCR and partners hope to continue helping up to 250,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced Iraqis and their host communities

Posted on 12 June 2007

Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to the Syrian capital Damascus on 2 October, 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees two years after her last visit. The award-winning American actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, took the opportunity to urge the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who remain in exile despite a relative improvement in the security situation in their homeland. Jolie said most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will need continued support from the international community, she said. The Goodwill Ambassador visited the homes of two vulnerable Iraqi families in the Jaramana district of southern Damascus. She was particularly moved during a meeting with a woman from a religious minority who told Jolie how she was physically abused and her son tortured after being abducted earlier this year in Iraq and held for days. They decided to flee to Syria, which has been a generous host to refugees.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

Angelina Jolie returns to Iraq, urges support for the displaced

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to Iraq in July 2009 to offer support to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced within their own country.

During her day-long visit to Baghdad, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited a makeshift settlement for internally displaced people in north-west Baghdad where she met families displaced from the district of Abu Ghraib, located to the west of Baghdad, and from the western suburbs of the capital.

Despite the difficulties in Iraq, Jolie said this was a moment of opportunity for Iraqis to rebuild their lives. "This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives."

UNHCR estimates that 1.6 million Iraqis were internally displaced by a wave of sectarian warfare that erupted in February 2006 after the bombing of a mosque in the ancient city of Samarra. Almost 300,000 people have returned to their homes amid a general improvement in the security situation since mid-2008.

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