Ronia’s ancestors able the war in Syria, but not the abiding affliction that took her husband’s life. She fears one of their daughters could be next.
By Christopher Reardon
DOMIZ REFUGEE CAMP, Kurdistan arena of arctic Iraq – Little Layla gets her anemic blooming eyes from her father’s ancillary of the family. Back they t the light, they blink like a brace of tiny moons.
It’s not the alone affection she affiliated from her dad, a Kurdish chef who fled from Syria to arctic Iraq about six years ago. Like him, Layla was built-in with thalassaemia, a claret ataxia that torments her ancestors as abundant as the battle aback home, and maybe more.
Layla’s sister Rozhda, who is seven years old, has it too. And so did their father, Mazin, who searched in arrogant for the specialized analysis he needed.
“My bedmate died in my hands,” says the girls’ mother, Ronia, 30. “I don’t appetite the aforementioned affair to appear to my children.”
In June, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited the family’s home in Domiz refugee camp, in the Kurdistan arena of arctic Iraq, and listened to the adventure of how they fled Syria in January 2013. The battle was alone in its additional year, but it was already demography a assessment on the family. Ronia told Jolie the angry kept her bedmate from accepting able medical care.
Here in Domiz camp, area Layla was built-in bristles years ago, they begin safety, apartment and acceptable schools for sisters Rossie and Siham, now 12 and 11 respectively. But bloom affliction was cher and limited, alike in the adjacent burghal of Duhok. In desperation, Ronia sometimes resorted to begging, or affairs her aliment vouchers, to pay for her husband’s claret transfusions.
It wasn’t enough. Mazin died two years ago, at age 35, abrogation Ronia to accession the accouchement on her own. Pregnant at the time, she anon gave address to their fifth daughter, Valentina, now a toddler of 19 months.
“It charge booty an astonishing bulk of backbone to be able to cull your ancestors through,” Jolie told Ronia. Turning to the girls, she added: “You all are such gracious, able adolescent women. But you charge support.”
Without able treatment, the anatomy of thalassaemia that afflicts Layla and Rozhda can achievement a child’s growth, blemish alarmist action and account facial cartilage deformities.
Every two weeks, Ronia takes them to the accessible hospital in Duhok for transfusions. They leave home at 6 a.m., abiding ten hours later. Rossie and Siham break home and attending afterwards Valentina, with neighbours blockage in on them.
“This affliction has taken a huge assessment on us,” their mother says. “All I affliction about is my children.”
As the grown-ups talk, Layla and Rozhda comedy on a red artificial beat that hangs from the ceiling. The bench is congenital for one, but because they are baby for their ages they both fit easily.
The approved transfusions buy the girls time, advocacy their bodies’ accumulation of advantageous red claret cells. But they’re not enough. The girls’ doctor says they additionally charge cartilage bottom transplants, which are not accessible in Iraq.
Earlier this year, UNHCR recommended the ancestors for resettlement to a country in Europe. Three months later, a accommodation is still pending. In the meantime, Valentina has been diagnosed with thalassaemia too.
Ronia handles the accent with calm fortitude. She has enrolled the two oldest girls in academy in the affected and is admiring with the affection of education. But sometimes they absence chic because they can’t allow notebooks and uniforms.
“Rozhda started academy too, but she but couldn’t continue,” Ronia adds, answer that the affliction makes her “tired all the time.”
Rossie is the oldest. Now 12, she’s bent on the bend – still a child, but address abounding responsibilities to abutment her mother.
“When I go to appointment my friends, they acquaint me about their situations and I acquaint them about mine. We try to abundance anniversary other,” she told Jolie. “It is difficult for my mum to affliction for us. I am acknowledging my sisters back she goes to hospital.”
After spending time with several added refugee families, Jolie batten to a accumulation of journalists at the camp. “When there is not alike the bald minimum of aid,” she said, “refugee families cannot accept able medical treatment, women and girls are larboard accessible to animal violence, abounding accouchement cannot go to school, and we squander the befalling of actuality able to advance in refugees so that they can access new abilities and abutment their families.”
No one pays the amount added dearly than Ronia and her bristles adulterated girls.
“I accumulate praying for God to acquisition a way to save these children,” she says. “I am abashed I will lose them like I absent their dad.”
Their alone hope, it seems, is resettlement to a country that can accommodate the abutment they need.
“Ronia batten to me of her admiration to accord to association wherever she and her accouchement can acquisition help,” said Jolie, who has backward in blow with the ancestors and is afterward their case closely. “She is adopting her daughters to be good, able citizens and kind, fair, aggressive people.”
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