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Al-Hassakeh, North-Eastern Syria -- During a journey trying to cross the borders by foot from her home at al-Hole village, in Al-Hassakeh, at the north-eastern part of Syria close to the Iraqi borders, Mariam and her family of seven were prepared to risk being hit by mortar shelling, stray bullets, or even snipers, all of which is quite the norm in this part of the country. What she had not reckoned with was the ground beneath her feet shifting violently due to a mine explosion. Mariam was lucky to survive with an injured arm and her 16-week fetus in the explosion.

Land mines are the latest among the grave daily hazards faced by citizens in remote regions of Syria. According to some estimates, 600,000 of the 1.5 million residents of Al-Hassakeh are in need of emergency assistance. Well of half of those in need or around 345, 000 are women of reproductive age. Close to 54,500 pregnant and lactating women are in need of urgent gynecological and obstetric care.

The incident of mine explosion resulted in the immediate death of two of Mariam’s family members while others on the journey sustained moderate to severe injuries. “I did not feel anything as the shrapnel sliced through my arm but I did feel like a knife entered my body and cut the baby inside my body into small fragments”, said Mariam, 30, to the UNFPA team who visited the hospital where Mariam is being treated. The visit by UNFPA to the hard to reach governorate, is a first for a UN team to the city since one year.

Mariam was referred to the UNFPA- assisted hospital which is the only functional hospital in the area to discover that she has a stillbirth baby, in addition to a broken arm. When the team met her, doctors had already performed the orthopedic surgery and were preparing Mariam for the gynecological procedure to remove the dead baby. She was also referred to one of UNFPA’s NGO partners in this remote governorate to receive further psycho-social support (PSS) and necessary assistance.

“We need everything”, the director of health says in response to a question about the health priorities in Al-Hasakeh. The governorate has been in siege for a long time, with no surface transportation access, while the air transport is limited and very expensive”.

With the support of the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), UNFPA Syria has now started the implementation of a project to reach women with lifesaving reproductive health and gender based violence (GBV) services. The project is being implemented in cooperation with 5 local NGOs to work throughout mobile teams, primary health clinics (PHC) and 2 hospitals, one of them is Al-Hassakeh National Hospital where Mariam is being treated.