Dispatch

Three years into Syria crisis, refugees resigned to ‘better’ reality.

15 March 2014

AMMAN — When Malak Hariri took refuge at the Zaatari Refugee Camp two years ago, she was alone with a baby before her husband followed them.

Life in the desert camp was then more difficult, too difficult in fact, so much so that the Daraa-born women wanted to be anywhere except there. 

Being one of the first families to arrive there, they suffered a lack of privacy, inconvenience of public toilets, tent homes and fear for personal safety, among other factors inherent in a fledgling refugee camp. But they survived and living conditions became better, pending a return to the sweet home back in Syria. 

Malak and her husband, Majid, and their son, have settled down and adapted to camp life. With the availability of maternal care, they decided to have another baby. After all, they live in a prefabricated house now and have the privacy a family needs, while the husband has a “good job”. 

The husband said: “We are luckier than many other families here,” in the camp that is currently home to more than 100,000 Syrians, who have been inflowing since it was established in August 2012. 

“We have a home now,” Malak said.

The family now lives in a two-room ready-made house, with a kitchen and private toilet. One caravan was provided to them by the UNHCR, while they bought another for JD150 from another family who decided to go back to Syria. 

Majid said the family’s income is good because he works as a guard at the UNFPA clinic.

“I adapted to the place to the extent I decided to take a decision that is considered the most difficult to take in refuge… I decided to have another baby,” the 28-year-old wife said. That was a shift in attitude because the couple had been determined not to have any more babies before they go back to their country. 

“My baby girl Sereen was born on February 14 [2014],” the mother said, adding that though she does not believe in Valentine’s Day, having a healthy baby on that date was her gift from God.

“Everything a pregnant woman needs is available. I used to go to the clinic once or twice and gave birth to the new baby here in the camp,” the mother explained.

“It seems the crisis in my country will not be over anytime soon, and I wanted a sister or a brother for my Louay,” she said, adding that when she found all services available, she was encouraged to take this decision.

According to Zeina Horani, who is in charge of media and external relations at UNFPA Jordan, having maternity care clinics in place was a priority for the UN agency.

Horani said of the total 600,000 Syrian refugees registered in Jordan, 70 per cent are women and children, and they deserve to be provided with the health services they need.

The UNFPA has established 27 reproductive health clinics to serve women refugees. Of these, she said, 14 are static in host communities, seven are mobile and six are within Zaatari.

The services include “prevention, antenatal care, postnatal care, and delivery clinic”, she told The Jordan Times.

Figures she presented showed that 691 babies were born at the UNFPA clinic based in Zaatari last year, and 258 babies in the first two months this year.

Sereen Hariri was one of these. Her family is waiting for the day when they go back to Syria and raise a bigger family, remembering her birth as a sweet moment.