Home Front cover PHOTO ESSAYS About Letters Contact Products Back issues Shop Contributors LIFE FORCE
The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay “A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
September 2014 issue
Child Birth Gaza Strip
by Alison Baskerville
As the emergency department of the al-Shifa hospital becomes increasingly overcrowded, a steady stream of pregnant Palestinian women is arriving in a building tucked behind the main hospital. Receiving between 25 to 50 women per day they are now having to redirect medical supplies to the intensive care unit. Among the women is 28-year-old Hanan al-Mahessn. On the second day of the air strikes, her neighbour's home was hit and destroyed. "I started to feel sick. Then the bleeding started," she told Al Jazeera. Hanan was rushed to the hospital and lost three pints of blood. After going into surgery, her baby was delivered, but had died in the womb. The doctors made the decision to tell her that her little girl was in a special care unit as they felt she was too ill to receive the news. A day later she learnt the truth. "My children are used to this war. They have grown up with the sound of bombs," said Mariam Guneed, 39, a mother of eight. "We must have many children here, because we lose so many in the wars," Mariam reflects as she returns to her room to sit and await the birth of her ninth child. Less than a few kilometres from Shifa is the al-Awda hospital in the Jabalaya refugee camp of Gaza, one of the poorest areas of the city. At just 30 minutes old Nisreen has been born into a country under siege. The sounds of Israeli drones and bombardments can be heard above and the all too familiar whoosh of a Hamas rocket breaks the silence of the city. In a few days time, she will leave the hospital with her mother into an area which has suffered a large number of Israeli air strikes. "Sometimes the women just don't want to leave. They know they are safe here. We don't turn them away, we keep them as long as they want to stay," hospital director Dr Yousef Soueti said.
21/07/2014. Gaza.  Imam Al Lulu (35) and her husband had fled a Syrian refugee camp to seek refuge and a safe place to start a family within the Jabalaya refugee camp in Gaza.  However, their daughter Sham who was less than an hour old has been born into a conflict that has now claimed the lives of over 1,400 people.
The Al Shifa hospital maternity unit can expect upto 25 - 50 women over a 24 hour period.  During the current conflict medical supplies are now running short.
Mariam Guneed (39) a mother of eight is now expecting her ninth child.
"We must have many children here, because we lose so many in the wars." Reflects  Mariam Guneed (39).
"We must have many children here, because we lose so many in the wars." Mariam Guneed
A notice board displays portraits of some of the new born babies in the hospital.
Less than an hour old, baby Eileen is held in the arms of her mother, 28 year old Amal Zalgoot. “She is my third child and I am so happy to have made it to the hospital safely.”   Eileen was born on the morning of the sixth day of the conflict .  According to the UN at least 364 Palestinian civilians have been killed, including at least 121 children and 59 women.
“When the war started I felt sick.” Recounts 28 year old Hanan Al Mahessen as she lies in a hospital bed in the Al Shifa hospital in the Gaza strip. “Then the bomb landed next to my home and the bleeding started.”  As the ambulance made it’s way to the hospital Hanan continued to bleed and was rushed to surgery where her baby girl was delivered by caesarian. Unfortunately she was fully grown but died at birth. “Once I woke up I was like any mother, asking for my baby. They told be she was in a special care unit, but I knew something was wrong.” Afraid for her condition and severe blood loss Hanan was not told the news of her daughter’s death until a day after the surgery. “When they told me, I felt like I couldn’t breath. I wanted to cry but I was too tired.”
One day old Afaff Sauda is held in the arms of her father, Omar.  This is his first child and was delivered as the family evacuated their home in the Bet Lahiya district of Gaza city.   Once they are well enough they will have to join some of the many families now living in UN schools across the city.  UNRWA estimate that there are currently 102,788 displaced people across the strip.
One day old Afaff Sauda is held in the arms of her father, Omar (25).
The Al Awda hospital specialises in maternity care and supports the residents of the neighbouring Jabalaya refugee camp, one of the poorest areas of Gaza city.  The director of the hospital Dr Yousef Soueti (62) commented, "We have seen an increase of women coming in with bleeding during pregnancy.  In some cases they are coming here so that we will keep them for 24 hours as it is safer than being at home."
The Al Awda hospital specialises in maternity care.
Shortly after birth most mothers and their children are sent home, often to areas that are being evacuated.  Baby Rezal Ahmad is just 2 weeks old and is brought in for a check up as her mother is worried about her weight. This is Anwar Ahmad’s (20) first child.
Anwar holds the hand of her baby daughter Rezal as she is checked over in a health clinic near the Jabalaya refugee camp in Gaza.
As the Israel/Gaza conflict intensifies the number of displaced people has now risen to over 102,788.  At least 364 Palestinian civilians have been killed, including at least 121 children and 59 women.  At least 3500 Palestinians have been injured, including at least 1100 children and 608 women. (Source - UN)
"Children have stopped eating and sleeping.  Their health is starting to suffer. Skin conditions, infection and gastro problems are increasing" Commented Dr Hassan Zebadin (44), one of the many staff employed to help out by the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) who are now working tirelessly to provide basic medical supplies within the UN schools to women who cannot return home after giving birth.
Back to menu