RED International has been excited by a new initiative by their partner, Operation Mercy (OPM), in helping the Syrian Refugees in Domiz 2 Camp, Northern Iraq.
Alongside the hygiene distribution project, OPM has also been working with pregnant women and infants. The World Health Organization recommends that “infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.”
According to Nurture Project International, an international NGO specializing in care for refugee mothers and babies, “Approximately a fifth of all deaths among children under 5 years in the developing world could be prevented through safe infant feeding practices. Infants fewer than six months old who are not breastfed in non-emergency situations are already more than 14 times more likely to die from all causes than are exclusively breastfed children. These risks are amplified in emergency situations and mortality rates are often greatly elevated.”
Operation Mercy, has been operating a pregnancy and lactation support project in Domiz I refugee camp since September 2016 with the following goals:
1) To increase support systems for refugee women who are pregnant and/or lactating in the refugee camps
2) To provide training to key local staff members of the Dohuk Department of Health that provide direct care to women in the camps, in order to address commonly-identified barriers to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding does more than just support physical health for mother and baby; it is a holistic lifeline in times of crisis, laying down foundations of attachment and emotional resilience that stretch years into the future. In the words of one mother in Domiz 1 who was supported by our project, “I cried the last two nights when I thought my baby didn’t want my milk… but now, when I put her skin-to-skin and look into her eyes, I just feel so happy.”
The Pregnancy and Lactation Support project has had a rare opportunity to address all five areas of Operation Mercy’s core competencies simultaneously: empowering women, improving health, caring for children at risk, equipping the next generation, and responding to crisis. OPM has been honoured to play a role in this vital work. All these qualities fit with RED International’s goals and our vision to support women and children through the 1000 days initiative. If you would like to know more about the relief work in Northern Iraq follow the link below.
Thank you for helping to bring health and hygiene to so many families in Northern Iraq through RED International and its partner. Lives are transformed thanks to your support.
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