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In Zaatari Refugee Camp, Numerous Babies Are Born Every Day And Go Unnoticed By World

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ZAATARI
Several children were likely born in the Zaatari refugee camp during the hoopla surrounding the royal baby Monday. In this photo, Syrian refugee children play in the Zaatari refugee camp on Jan. 31. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) | Getty

International media descended on London for the much anticipated arrival of the Duchess of Cambridge's royal offspring Monday. But amid the baby mania, some pointed out that in the time it took for Kate Middleton to give birth, women in refugee camps around the world were also becoming new moms, albeit with much less fanfare.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an estimated 13 children are born in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp every day.

The 2.8 square-mile camp, which mostly shelters Syrians fleeing the civil war in their home country, was built to shelter 60,000 people but currently holds as many as 160,000, GlobalPost reports.

The overwhelming scale of the camp -- and by proxy the humanitarian crisis that necessitated it -- is illustrated in a series of aerial photos taken of Zaatari during U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent trip to Jordan.

But what those pictures do not capture is what daily life is like for those tens of thousands living in Zaatari.

There are currently three different clinics for pregnant woman operated by the UNFPA in the camp, and demand is so great a fourth is due to open soon, the Jordan Times reports.

Between June 30 and July 21, 53 women gave birth at the single UNFPA clinic currently with a delivery room, according to the Times. But by the end of the year, the total number of Zaatari-born babies may reach 30,000.

Caesarean sections are handled by a Moroccan or French field hospital.

One of the problems that compound an already difficult situation is the influx of pregnant teens, some as young as 14 years old, according to a February report by UNICEF.

“We have a serious situation, because these girls have not finished their growth,” UNICEF Jordan Health and Nutrition Specialist Dr. Carine Boyce said. “Apart from the obvious psychological aspect, they often do not yet have the nutritional reserve that a pregnancy requires. The [fetus] will dig in the girls’ reserves, putting them at risk of anaemia. The babies, themselves, are often born premature and underweight.”

Still, while facilities remain packed and doctors are in increasingly high demand, those on the ground are continuing to make the most out of what they have, the Associated Press reports.

"Thank God, we have clean facilities and safe instruments in such a refugee camp," a new mother who identified herself as Umm Raad told the AP from the maternity ward of a Moroccan field hospital set up in the camp.

But children born in the camp face an uncertain future -- a worry that weighs heavily on 29-year-old mother Um Mohamed.

"This child of mine and the others born here are not born in their own country, their own home," she told the AP. "What will their futures be?"

(h/t Global Post)

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