Turkey-Syria earthquake: mother and child saved twice in three days

Adnan’s condition has improved markedly since he was hospitalized with dehydration and jaundice

A Syrian mother and her newborn are recovering after being rescued from the rubble of her earthquake-hit home twice a week, a charity says.

Dima was seven months pregnant when last Monday’s earthquake collapsed part of her home in Jindayris.

She suffered minor injuries and later gave birth to a boy, Adnan, at a hospital in Afrin supported by the Syrian American Medical Society (Sams).

They returned home, only to collapse completely three days later.

Adnan was taken back to al-Shifa hospital in Afrin by rescuers in critical condition, suffering from severe dehydration and jaundice, while Dima was treated for a serious leg injury.

Dr Abdulkarim Hussein al-Ibrahim, a pediatrician, told the BBC via WhatsApp on Monday that the baby was responding well to treatment.

“Adnan’s condition … has improved markedly,” he said. “We’re just feeding him and [providing] the rest of his needs through intravenous drips.

Video footage Sams released shows Adnan sleeping peacefully inside an incubator with his wrist connected to an IV.

Turkey-Syria earthquake: mother and child saved twice in three days
Dima and her husband Abdul Majid now live in a tent with their nine grandchildren

Dima has once again been released from hospital and lives in a tent with her husband, Abdul Majid, and their nine grandchildren. She travels to Afrin every day to visit Adnan in the hospital.

Her family was forced to return to her partially destroyed home after giving birth as there was no alternative shelter available in Jindayris, one of the hardest-hit towns in opposition-controlled northwestern Syria.

They also received no other help after the earthquake, like tens of thousands of others who were affected.

Even before the disaster, 4.1 million people – mostly women and children – relied on humanitarian assistance to survive in the region, which is the last bastion of jihadists and rebels who have been fighting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad for 12 years.

Even the air and artillery strikes on hospitals – most of which have been attributed to the government and its Russian ally – had left only half of them functional. In 2021, shelling destroyed parts of al-Shifa hospital and killed staff and patients.

As of Monday, only 58 trucks carrying aid from UN agencies had arrived from Turkey through Bab al-Hawa in Idlib province, the only border crossing the United Nations is allowed to use to deliver humanitarian assistance. . However, the United Nations said on Monday evening that the Syrian government was opening two more border crossings.

Deliveries were delayed by damaged roads and other logistical problems in Turkey and did not include the heavy machinery and other specialist equipment needed by the White Helmets, whose first responders operate in opposition-held areas.

Turkey-Syria earthquake: mother and child saved twice in three days
Sams said lack of shelter and access to water, sanitation and hygiene was a major concern in earthquake-hit areas

Dr Ibrahim said there was a severe shortage of medicines, other medical supplies, beds and blankets needed to treat the many wounded still being pulled from the rubble.

“No hospital has the capacity to receive such a large number of wounded,” he warned. “[Everywhere] is full.”

The UN has announced that 55 health facilities in the region were damaged by the earthquake and that 31 are partially functional or have suspended their services.

Sams Foundation President Dr Basel Termanini said the lack of shelter and access to sanitation (WASH) was also a major concern for the medical relief organisation, whose facilities in the region they have helped more than 2,000 earthquake victims.

“We can treat women post-trauma or postpartum, but they have to go back to a safe environment with minimal accommodation, nutrition and clean water,” she told the BBC.

“Unfortunately, this is generally lacking in northwestern Syria, due to limited resources and significantly delayed aid from the only lifeline of the Bab al-Hawa crossing.”

Dr. Termanini accused the UN and the international community of being “rather guilty of poor planning and failure to execute.”

Sams is currently working with the White Helmets and the Syrian Forum, a consortium of non-profit organizations that assist people in the region, to “fill the gaps” in terms of shelter and nutrition, he added.

“But the needs are enormous and the international community must act together to avoid a major humanitarian crisis.”

More than 35,000 people are known to have been killed in Syria and Turkey since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey.

The United Nations said 4,400 deaths were reported in northwestern Syria, more than 800 more than the combined death toll released over the weekend by the Syrian government and the White Helmets.

During a visit to the government-controlled city of Aleppo on Monday, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told reporters that the initial “rescue phase” after the disaster was “coming to an end”.

“The humanitarian phase – the urgency to provide shelter, psychosocial care, food, education and a sense of the future for these people – that is our obligation now,” he said.

An estimated 280,000 people across the North West are in immediate need of shelter or other non-food items.

Griffiths also said the United Nations hopes to provide aid to opposition-held areas on the front lines of government territory, something that has rarely happened during the civil war.

The UN said the jihadist alliance that dominates the opposition enclave, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), blocked “cross-line” deliveries after the quake. But HTS denied the charge and accused the United Nations of “politicising the emergency response”.

February 13, 2023 correction: An earlier version of this report stated that Dima and her husband lived in a tent with their nine other children. Children are their nieces and nephews.

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Turkey-Syria earthquake: mother and child saved twice in three days

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