Baby born displaced finds shelter thanks to UNHCR
HASSAKEH CITY, SYRIA, Aug 17, 2015 (UNHCR) - The first thing little Rahma saw when she opened her eyes was a public park.
Like thousands of others, escalating violence has forced her parents to flee Ghweran neighbourhood. This park in the centre of Hassekeh city, northern Syria, was now home.
"We had to run quickly amidst fierce fighting and clashes," her mother Salma remembered. She was nine-months pregnant at the time and their escape was exhausting. "I could barely walk. I was very scared. I was praying to reach a safe area to deliver my baby."
Several days after they arrived at the park, Rahma was born with the help of a local midwife.
But this was far from the birth Salma had imagined. "It has been 10 days since our arrival," she said afterwards. "It is very hot here. Water is not always available and there is no privacy."
Rahma's father, who works as a laborer in Ghweran, was exhausted. With nowhere for his family to sleep except the public park, he was forced to keep watch day and night.
After several days, UNHCR located Rahma's family and moved them to an urban shelter in Hassakeh city, where they were provided with core relief items and humanitarian assistance. Now, at last, baby Rahma can sleep easy with her family safe around her.
Every day, her presence gives her father the strength to keep going. "Despite all difficulties I had been through to get my family to safety, just by looking into Rahma's eyes I forget my troubles," he said. "She restores my hope and gives me faith. After all, we are safe and together."
Last June, fierce fighting in Hassakeh led to the displacement of an estimated 120,000 people. Many have been displaced before, in a region which already hosts 249,000 displaced Syrians. Access to Hassakeh city remains restricted due to the ongoing security situation.
However, UNHCR, through its volunteers and partners, has identified nearly 50,000 displaced people in the northern districts of the Hassakeh governorate, including Qamishli, Derbasia, Amuda, Yaroubia, Ras Al Ein and Malkia.
So far, the agency has supported these internally displaced with core relief items, mostly those in Qamishli, Amuda and Derbasia.
Despite her ordeal, Salma has not lost hope. "I named my baby girl Rahma [which translates as 'mercy' in Arabic] because she was born in the Holy month of Ramadan," she said. "I ask God to have mercy on us and on all of the displaced people."
By Etab Khajo, Qamishli Syria