Syrian girl born without legs walks on new prosthetics

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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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
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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.”


Boat with migrants rescued off Libya looks for port to dock

Updated 20 January 2019
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Boat with migrants rescued off Libya looks for port to dock

  • Sea-Watch 3 asked where it can bring the 47 migrants it had taken aboard

ROME: A private rescue boat with dozens of migrants aboard sought permission for a second day to enter a safe port Sunday, but said so far its queries to several nations haven’t succeeded. Another vessel crowded with migrants and taking on water, meanwhile, put out an urgent, separate appeal for help in the southern Mediterranean.
Sea-Watch 3, run by a German NGO, said Sunday it has contacted Italy, Malta, Libya as well as the Netherlands, since the boat is Dutch-flagged, asking where it can bring the 47 migrants it had taken aboard. Sea-Watch tweeted that Libyan officials had hung up when it asked for a port assignment.
An Italian state TV reporter aboard Sea-Watch 3 said the rescue took place Saturday about 50 kilometers (30 miles) off the coast west of Tripoli in Libya’s search-and-rescue area. Libya-based human traffickers launch flimsy or rickety boats, crowded with migrants hoping to reach Europe and its opportunities for better lives.
Separately, Sea-Watch tweeted Sunday afternoon that it had been urgently contacted by a boat with 100 migrants aboard that said it was taking on water, 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) from the current location at sea of Sea-Watch 3.
The distressed vessel reported navigational problems and had among the migrants a child “unconscious or deceased,” Sea-Watch said. Subsequent communication said the boat was “taking in water” and asked Sea-Watch to call for help, “regardless of what this would mean concerning a possible return to Libya,” Sea-Watch said.
The aid group later said Malta on the phone confirmed “that they will come back to us” regarding the distress call, but it wasn’t immediately clear what kind of assistance the Maltese might give.
Migrants dread the prospect of being returned to Libya, where they have reported torture including beatings and rapes in overcrowded detention centers.
The governments of Malta and Italy have been refusing to allow private rescue boats rescuing migrants to dock. Both contend that in recent years they have taken in many migrants rescued at sea and that fellow European Union nations must agree to take their share of these asylum-seekers.
Earlier this month, Malta transferred to land 49 migrants who had been aboard Sea-Watch 3 as long as 19 days but refused the boat port entry. They were allowed to set foot on the southern Mediterranean island only after an EU-brokered deal found several countries willing to take them as well as other migrants, who had been rescued at sea earlier in separate operations by Malta.