BEIRUT | Upon learning that she was pregnant, Rana Mineimni began shopping for clothes for the baby. But since the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut, enthusiasm has been replaced by angst.
“I’m always expecting another explosion. When I hear a car or any noise, I’m very scared, ”says the 25-year-old woman, who is due in October.
Two months after the cataclysm of August 4, the trauma of future mothers remains alive in a battered Lebanese capital. And the challenge is to provide appropriate services to the 4,600 pregnant women identified by the UN among the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes.
“Before the explosion, I was preparing for the birth of my first child with enthusiasm. Since then, I have stopped everything, “admits Mineimni at a medical center in Bachoura, in central Beirut.
She no longer buys, settling for second-hand clothes donated by relatives. In a Lebanon in the midst of economic collapse, plagued by unemployment and record inflation, it is haunted by the need to “save”.
“I tell myself that maybe we will need to leave. Or the little one will need something urgently and we won’t be able to buy her, ”she explains.
On the day of the blast, she managed to help an injured relative at her in-laws before collapsing to the ground herself, “in shock.”
Like others, she can no longer afford to follow up on her pregnancy in a private clinic.
So she turned to a dispensary supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), whose services are all the more crucial as three hospitals and several clinics in Beirut were blown up by the explosion.
In a mobile clinic run by the NGO Al-Maqassid and UNFPA, Heba Khoudary welcomes women in the same precarious situation every day.
During the few days following the explosion, this midwife identified many serious cases: “premature deliveries, bleeding, or psychological exhaustion”.
Between 600 and 700 women have since benefited from the services of UNFPA’s three mobile clinics.
Hygiene kits are distributed there, including sanitary napkins. A great help for women. With the price explosion due to the depreciation of the Lebanese pound, “feminine hygiene products are no longer a priority for families,” Ms. Khoudary laments.
Since the tragedy, UNFPA has distributed 35,000 of these “dignity kits”.
” I do not sleep ”
Today, the organization is working to consolidate medical support for women, explains the head of the UN agency in Beirut, Asma Kordahi.
UNFPA seeks to “employ more midwives to meet the needs of women in areas devastated by the explosion,” she said.
According to her, of the 300,000 Beirutis whose homes were destroyed by the explosion, “4,600 pregnant women need specialized services for monitoring pregnancies, childbirth, but also postnatal services.”
Thanks to these services, Rima Jassem, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, gave birth in mid-September to a little Halla.
On the roof terrace of a building with a breathtaking view of the ruins of the port, in the narrow room inhabited by Mrs. Jassem, her husband and their four children, the little one sleeps peacefully in a deckchair which acts as a cradle, placed on the floor.
Immediately after the explosion, the young mother rushed to the dispensary. She feared losing her baby “because of the terror”.
“Since then, I haven’t been sleeping. I see (the smoke mushroom, editor’s note) in front of my eyes, I’m afraid there is another explosion, “continues the 30-something.
She, who fled the war-torn North of Syria to find some safety in Beirut, now hopes for some semblance of normality in her country to return there.
Unlike Rana Mineimni, who wants to flee a Lebanon where the authorities are accused of being responsible for the deadly explosion due to their incompetence and corruption.
“Even if we survive, there is no future for me and my family in this country,” says the mother-to-be.