Dimoulitsa Pargas 16, Athens, Greece amurtel.gr@amurtel.org

Our projects

AMURTEL Greece is responding to the refugee crisis by providing antenatal and postnatal care, programs for infant and young child feeding, and safe spaces for mothers and babies to gather.

Our teams have been present in Athens since September 2015. Following our work based at the port of Pireaus and other camps, we have now opened a Mother-Baby Area in the hub of downtown Athens. More than 4,000 refugees currently live in urban settings and more are expected before winter sets in. With public transportation allowing access to downtown for those in the surrounding Athens camps, this move will enable us to reach the greatest number of people.

Our projects, outlined below, will continue to adapt to respond to the needs of women and children as this crisis develops.

“Reproductive health care in emergencies is not a luxury but a necessity that saves lives and reduces illness” 1

From pregnancy to postpartum

One in five refugee women of childbearing age (15-45) is likely to be pregnant. 2 Pregnant women and newborns are disproportionately harmed by disasters, with more miscarriages, premature births, low birth weight infants, undesired pregnancies and birth complications than an average population.

Lack of adequately nutritious food, a scarcity of drinking water, fragmented or no health care, unfamiliar surroundings, and the often unending psychological stress put pregnant women and infants at great risk.

We offer:

  • Prenatal and postnatal exams by licensed midwives
  • Birth preparation and assistance at births whenever possible
  • Postpartum care of mother and infant
  • Supplemental food and water during pregnancy and lactation in order to help cover nutritional needs and prevent dehydration

In June 2016, we distributed 1,000 supplemental food bags to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers 3

Infant and young child feeding

Breastfeeding is a crucially important means of enabling health and stability in an infant during a crisis. However, due to the indiscriminate distribution of breastmilk substitutes combined with many widely disseminated misconceptions about breastmilk, many mothers believe that formula feeding is best. These mothers unwittingly put their children at high risk and often need support to maintain breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization states that infants should be exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of life with breastfeeding and complementary foods both given until two years of age or beyond. During a crisis, this is even more lifesaving than at other times.

We offer:

  • Infant feeding assessments for mothers with children under 2 years of age
  • Information on the importance and efficacy of breastfeeding in disaster situations
  • Help for mothers to  increase their milk supply and relactate if possible
  • Assistance for those who need to give breastmilk substitutes
  • Complementary food for children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years

“Breastfeeding practices need to be protected during emergencies; infants who are not breastfed are at a manifold higher risk of morbidity and mortality than breastfed children.” 4

Safe Spaces

Mother-baby areas provide safety, reassurance and resources for mothers to feel supported and access information, particularly in relation to infant feeding. These spaces evolve from the needs and skills of the mothers themselves.

We also provide areas where mothers can bathe their babies.

 

 

References:

  1.  The Johns Hopkins and Red Cross Red Crescent, Public health guide in emergencies
  2. United Nations Population Fund
  3. AMURTEL Greece evaluation data
  4. World Health Organization, Responding to Nutrition Gaps in Jordan in the Syrian Refugee Crisis