Born in the middle of a conflict that has displaced millions, infants and children in Syria's war-torn areas have a slim chance of survival. But, even if they managed to flee to safety in relatively peaceful towns, they still face dire poverty and lack of access to health services. Covering the situation on the ground, Elif Akkuş, a war journalist for Turkey's public broadcaster TRT noticed that there was something else missing, cradles. Using the Turkish hashtag #birbesiktesenal (you buy a cradle too), she started a social media campaign to collect donations to get cradles for infants, many of who were forced to sleep in vegetable boxes.
Akkuş has already managed to collect 40 cradles from donors and hopes to collect much more for babies and infants staying in refugee camps. "Even if we can't do much for them, we may help babies by donating cradles that will at least protect them a little," she said.
The Syria conflict, which worsened with the emergence of the terrorist group Daesh, has orphaned thousands of children while many are forced to live in dire conditions with their families in tent camps, set up mainly in the northern regions close to Turkey.
As a scorching summer set in, many face the risk of epidemics due to the unhealthy conditions in many camps. Breastfed babies are particularly vulnerable to diseases and unsanitary, primitive beds further aggravate the problems. Akkuş decided to launch the campaign after she witnessed an Iraqi Turkmen infant, who fled a Daesh-controlled Iraqi town into Syria with his family, die of heatstroke.
Along with the cradles, she asks donors for diapers, another important need for babies. Donations will be sent to the camp where Akkuş witnessed the heartrending death of the Iraqi infant. She said what she witnessed at the camp moved her. She saw how difficult it was for mothers to raise their infants in the camp, where there were at least 80 other babies.
"It was heart-wrenching. Babies do not have diapers and mothers are forced to use nylon bags as diapers. It irritates the babies' skin, but they have no other choices. They are entirely dependent on whatever humanitarian aid they get," Akkuş said.