A Syrian newborn whose mother gave birth while buried in earthquake rubble has received a name fitting her circumstances. A doctor at Afrin children’s hospital in Aleppo has named the baby girl Aya – the Arabic word for miracle – after rescuers found her trapped under a leveled building in Jenderis. Rescue workers found her 10 hours after the magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, February 7.
She was still attached to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, who was found dead alongside her husband and Aya’s four siblings.
Aya was rushed to hospital in Afrin with a series of shallow wounds over her back inflicted by the earthquake rubble.
Doctors initially feared the debris had damaged her spine, but they have since confirmed she is otherwise healthy.
Dr Hani Maarouf at Afrin’s Cihan Hospital said staff named her “so we could stop calling her a newborn baby”.
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“Until her distant family returns, I’m treating her like one of my own.”
Aya’s great-uncle Salah al-Badran has come forward and plans to take her in once she is released.
But while his family escaped their Jenderis home, it was destroyed in Monday’s tremors.
In the meantime, Dr Attiah’s wife has taken charge of breastfeeding her alongside their young daughter.
“Hundreds of thousands are now homeless, and some will have been separated from their families, which further increases their risk of being exploited or facing abuse.
“In the early stages of a crisis, as emergency actions are undertaken to meet the urgent needs of vulnerable people, safeguarding systems can struggle to develop quickly enough.
“Unfortunately, there are people who will prey on this vulnerability and will exploit these children at a time when they most need support and protection.”
He added: “Humanitarian needs were already extremely severe in Northwest Syria, and this catastrophic earthquake has added trauma to the ongoing crisis there.”