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Syrian refugee newborns named Abdullah, Rania as token of appreciation

By Khetam Malkawi - Sep 22,2012 - Last updated at Sep 22,2012

RAMTHA — Although their lives have been turned upside down by violence in their country, many Syrians who fled to Jordan are finding a sympathetic ear and security in the Kingdom.

“Being away from home is no longer an issue, as I feel safe here and surrounded by caring people,” Radwah Shalabi said, as she sat cuddling her two-week old son at the UNFPA clinic in the Cyber City complex, located in the Ramtha District, 90km north of Amman.

When she left her hometown of Daraa less than two months ago seeking refuge in Jordan, Shalabi was in her seventh month of pregnancy.

She said it was not easy walking for hours amid the shelling, while carrying her three-year old son.

“It is only when we arrived at the Jordanian border that I breathed a sigh of relief,” the mother of eight said, adding that her family stayed at the Bashabsheh facility in the border city of Ramtha for a few days until they were transferred to Cyber City.

“The first thing I did was ask about was the availability of a clinic at the shelter,” the 41-year old noted, adding that she was relieved when she found one at the facility and “above all it is run by a female gynaecologist and a midwife”.

“Not only did they welcome me at the clinic, but also visited me at my residence,” she told The Jordan Times.

On September 4, Shalabi said she gave birth to a baby boy and “named him Abdullah, after the King of Jordan who provided us with a safe place to stay in”.

Syrian women of childbearing age are granted neo- and postnatal care at UNFPA clinics in Cyber City and the King Abdullah Park in Ramtha, allowing families to continue their normal course of life.

Some of the women who delivered babies in Jordan have named their newborns Abdullah or Rania as a token of appreciation for the Kingdom's hospitality.

The UNFPA clinics not only provide services for pregnant women, but also postnatal care for both mother and child, according to Seham Helmi, another Syrian refugee residing in Cyber City.

“I come here regularly to undergo medical checkups and attend awareness sessions about breast cancer and reproductive health,” the mother of five said.

“Although my husband managed to leave the facility and found a job in Ramtha, I refused to accompany him... I made friends with the doctor and Um Ahmad [the midwife] and I can talk to them on any issue of concern, even if it is not related to my health,” Helmi told The Jordan Times.

Kholoud Mohammad, was also full of praise for the UNFPA clinic and the caring staff.

“I gave birth to my baby girl at the clinic with the help of Um Ahmad,” said the 30-year-old, who named her daughter Rania.

Um Ahmad, who joined the UNFPA clinic in August, said the centre helps Syrian women in any way they can.

“We also educate them about reproductive health issues and breast cancer,” the 50-year-old midwife told The Jordan Times.

The UNFPA, in cooperation with other partners, has established gynaecology clinics for Syrian women in the Zaatari Refugee Camp as well as Cyber City and King Abdullah Park. 

The UN agency has been responding to the needs of the Syrians since the onset of the crisis in two specific areas: reproductive health and protection from gender-based violence, according to UNFPA Assistant Representative Muna Idris.

“Delivering a child makes any woman anxious, so you imagine how the women feel [about] delivering a child in this totally different environment, many times without the support of her family,” Idris said.

“We are trying our best with our NGO and government partners to ease this anxiety, by providing them with care during their pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery. We will be expanding our services as the numbers grow and are planning to also provide more comfortable post-delivery care, so that immediately after delivery, the woman can receive care, counselling and support,” she explained.

Since the establishment of the Zaatari camp in July, 848 women visited the UNFPA Women's Clinic, which is run in cooperation with the Jordan Health Aid Society.

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