Syrian girl born without legs walks on new prosthetics

1 / 6
Syrian Maya Merhi holds her prosthetic legs inside a tent at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of Serjilla in northwestern Syria next to Bab Al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on December 9, 2018. (AFP)
2 / 6
Syrian Maya Merhi poses for a picture in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of Serjilla in northwestern Syria next to Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on December 9, 2018. (AFP)
3 / 6
Syrian Maya Merhi poses for a picture next to her prosthetic legs that are decorated with the Turkish flag inside a tent at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of Serjilla in northwestern Syria, next to Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on December 9, 2018. (AFP)
4 / 6
Syrian Maya Merhi removes her artificial legs inside a tent at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of Serjilla in northwestern Syria next to Bab Al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on December 9, 2018. (AFP)
5 / 6
Maya Merhi stands with the support of crutches next to her disabled father (C) outside their tent in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of Serjilla in northwestern Syria next to Bab Al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on December 9, 2018. (AFP)
6 / 6
Maya Merhi (C) plays with her friends in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of Serjilla in northwestern Syria next to Bab Al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on December 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
0

Syrian girl born without legs walks on new prosthetics

SERJILLA, Syria: Eight-year-old Maya Merhi had to struggle around a Syrian displaced persons camp on artificial limbs made of plastic tubing and tin cans.
But now the girl, who was born with no legs due to a congenital condition, is walking on new prosthetics after undergoing treatment in Turkey.
Pictures of her plight, including those taken by AFP in Syria, were seen around the world in June, and she was taken to Istanbul for the life-changing procedure.
Dressed in a pink sweater and matching shoes, Maya on Saturday was able for the first time to walk along the rutted roads of the Serjilla camp after arriving back.
Finally she joined in the games and dancing with the other children.
“I was so happy when I saw her walking,” says her father Mohammed, sitting in their makeshift tent.
“The whole family and all our loved ones were so happy.”
Mohammed suffers the same condition as his daughter, known as congenital amputation which means the person is born without lower limbs.
He cobbled together the homemade prosthetics on which she used to shuffle around the camp.
Originally from Aleppo region, the father and daughter had to move to rebel-held Idlib province as fighting from Syria’s civil war began to rage around their home.
After the pictures of Maya’s difficulties sparked attention across the globe, the Turkish Red Crescent intervened.
The father and daughter were evacuated from Syria by the Turkish authorities and brought to Istanbul for treatment at a specialized clinic.
Mohammed received prosthetic limbs as well, but admits that he isn’t yet as steady on them as his daughter.
Sitting on a foam mattress, his daughter unwraps the artificial legs and attaches them.
“To begin with there were difficulties getting used to them,” says her uncle Hussein, who accompanied his brother and niece to Turkey.
“All of a sudden she found herself up high on the new prosthetics.”


Migrants stranded at sea for three weeks face deportation

Updated 32 min 12 sec ago
0

Migrants stranded at sea for three weeks face deportation

  • Vessel carrying 75 illegal refugees, including 32 children, remained stranded 25 km off Tunisia

TUNIS: Tunisia has allowed dozens of migrants, mostly from Bangladesh, to disembark after three weeks stranded in the Mediterranean, so that they can return to their home countries, the Red Crescent said on Wednesday.

An Egyptian boat rescued at least 75 migrants in Tunisian waters last month. But local authorities in the governorate of Medinine said its migrant centers were too overcrowded to let them ashore, leaving the vessel stranded 25 km off the coastal city of Zarzis.

“After they were stranded for three weeks at sea in difficult conditions, Tunisia agreed to dock the ship, and migrants accepted to return to their countries in coming days,” Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told Reuters.

After a visit by officials from Bangladesh Embassy, the migrants agreed to return home, according to Mongi Slim, a Red Crescent official.

Earlier, Red Crescent representatives welcomed to port 64 Bangladeshis, nine Egyptians, a Moroccan, a Sudanese citizen, who left Zuwara in Libya in late May.

The migrants, which include at least 32 children and unaccompanied minors, are to be transferred to a reception center in Sfax from where they are set to return home, Slim added.

Worried about creating a precedent, Tunisian authorities said they accepted the migrants as an exception and for “humanitarian” reasons.

“We thank Tunisia’s renewed commitment to life and dignity,” said Lorena Lando, the head of the International Organization for Migration in Tunisia.

She added that it is urgent to put in place a collaborative approach to helping migrants in the Mediterranean.

Neighboring Libya’s west coast is a frequent departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe by paying human traffickers. But their numbers have dropped after an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coast guard.

At least 65 migrants drowned last month when their boat capsized off Tunisia after setting out from Libya.

In the first four months of 2019, 164 people are known to have died on the route, a smaller number but a higher death rate than in previous years, with one dying for every three who reach European shores, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.