Dispatch

17 December 2012

Another Safe Delivery in a Jordanian Refugee Camp

While conflict continues in Syria, refugees continue to give birth
Samira and her baby boy Omar, at UNFPA/JHAS Clinic/Za'atari Camp
Photographer: Ra'ed Addayleh

ZA'ATARI CAMP, Mafraq, Jordan— Samira was seven months pregnant when she and her family fled their home in Syria, seeking refuge in neighbouring Jordan.

The 28-year old mother was not expecting to deliver her fifth baby in a refugee camp outside her home and her country. "I was expecting the conflict in Syria come to an end before giving birth to my baby," she said.

But when the time came, she found herself delivering her baby in a tent in a refugee camp inside Jordan.

Her labour came suddenly, right after her husband had asked her for a cup of coffee. "When I went to prepare it, I felt the labour pain," Samira said. "I was screaming… in less than a minute the baby was there.

"There was no time to go to the hospital, and I found myself delivering the baby in our tent," she added. "I was confused and afraid. It was late and there was no time to go to the hospital," the mother explained, adding that a neighbour in the camp, who is a midwife, came to check on her and the baby.

Delivering post-partum care

"I was then transported to the Mafraq hospital where doctors told me everything was fine, but I should get extra care. When I went back to the camp, the staff in the clinic asked me to stay in the post-partum room they have there, so that they could monitor my situation and keep an eye on me," Samira continued while lying in a bed at the post-partum unit in the clinic, which is run by the Jordanian Health Aid Society, with support from UNFPA.

Although Samira gave birth to a healthy baby, Omar, she is having some problems that require care, according to gynaecologist Rima Dyab who manages the clinic. "We will provide her with the medical care she needs and keep her here until she feels better," the doctor added.

"I feel much better now, as they are taking good care of me and my baby, they gave me a lot of advice and tips on how to take good care of myself and my baby, especially in the camp environment, and encouraged me to breastfeed my baby," Samira said.

Since it was opened, the clinic has provided a range of healthcare services, including pre- and postnatal care, family planning and reproductive health education — for many of the women residing in the camp.

The influx of refugees strains resources

In designated camps, such as this one, reproductive health care services have been well implemented. However, it has been more difficult to reach refugees living in host communities. An estimated 120,000 refugees are living in different Jordanian towns near the Syrian border, either staying with friends and relatives or renting space.

UNFPA and its local partners, such as the Jordanian Health Aid Society, are working closely with other United Nations agencies to coordinate the response. Increased support from the international community will be necessary for the United Nations and its partners to scale up their response throughout the country.

The influx of refugees has put a strain on existing national health services. While UNFPA has provided training to partners and medical staff, more female doctors are needed to serve UNFPA-supported clinics.

UNFPA and the Jordanian Health Aid Society are working together to address such issues, while also increasing the provision of family planning services.

—Reported by Khetam Malkawi for UNFPA