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Gunfire, screams and no hospital in sight: the most difficult birth ever?

Mum-to-be Samah had already faced tragedy.

A stray bullet had killed the father of her unborn child, another victim of Iraq’s brutal conflict.

Samah had dressed in black every day since then, but hoped the birth would ease the grief she still carried with her.

When she heard the sound of an approaching battle, the heavily pregnant Samah knew that danger was close by. It was time go.

She left her home in Ramadi and set off on foot towards her cousins in Baghdad, about 100 miles away. She was joining thousands of others hoping to find safety.

No time to lose

The crowd headed for the town of Bzeebiz. Its bridge would be a vital step in the journey towards the Iraqi capital.

Samah explains: “After a day of walking and fear, I was trying to reach the beginning of the bridge. I started to feel the pain of labour.

“I kept convincing myself that it was not the time yet. It was just not the proper time to give birth. It was not the time to celebrate the birth of a baby girl.”

The pain was like nothing she had felt before. Samah cried out – but her screams went unnoticed in the middle of the noisy crowd.

Samah stopped by some parked trucks, hoping the baby would wait a few precious hours and allow her to find a doctor or hospital. But the baby was in no mood to wait.

A daughter arrives

A female volunteer from the Iraqi Red Crescent saw what was happening and rushed to help.

The volunteer helped Samah through the labour and eventually there was good news: the baby girl arrived safe and sound.

As well as help during the birth, the Red Crescent gave Samah essential aid: food and water.

It was the sort of birth no mother would want for her child – and the family’s journey was far from over.

But in a moment of darkness and danger, when others walked past with no idea of Samah’s ordeal, the Red Crescent did what it could to welcome her daughter into the world.


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Young Iraqi girl

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