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With malnourished mothers, lack of baby formula leads to ‘underdevelopment’ in Daraa

AMMAN: There is so little baby formula in rebel-held areas […]

9 December 2015

AMMAN: There is so little baby formula in rebel-held areas across Daraa province, with mothers too malnourished or psychologically unable to nurse, that families are turning to alternatives including goat and cow milk, juices and herbal teas to feed their babies.

“All these alternatives lead to illnesses in babies such as difficulty digesting, diarrhea, malnutrition, and underdevelopment,” Mohammed Ayyash, the head of the Daraa Milk Bank, told Syria Direct Tuesday. The initiative intends to distribute 35,000 containers of formula every month, each weighing 400 grams, to 3,000 families across the province.

Most babies require four containers of formula a month; because of limited supplies, the Milk Bank aims to provide two to each needy family.

 Campaign flier for the Milk Bank.

Mothers who receive aid from the Milk Bank are unable to nurse for both physical and psychological reasons, said Ayyash. Malnutrition plays a role, as does the constant state of fear affecting civilians living in rebel-held areas.

“Their situation is unstable—moving from place to place because of regime bombings targeting the cities and towns of Daraa.”

Rebels control most of Daraa province. The regime’s presence is limited to the northern part of the eponymous capital and areas falling along the Daraa-Damascus highway.

The Milk Bank began its work in May 2015, and receives funding both from private donors and from the Humanity Ataa Association, a charitable organization that provides humanitarian support and medical care in rebel-held areas.

The Bank began an emergency campaign in late November to collect donations after “our supplies were totally exhausted,” said Ayyash. He attributed the absence of milk to the regime’s encirclement of rebel-held areas in Daraa, where the price of a single 400-gram container has reached SP2,500 ($11.30). Some donors also stopped providing monetary support to the Milk Bank, he added.

So far, the campaign has reached 60 percent of its target goal, spokesperson Sara al-Hourani told Syria Direct Tuesday.

“We can’t do anything except donation campaigns, communication with donors and relying on the media in order to shed light on this dangerous situation for children,” said Ayyash. 

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