Pregnancy should be a time of joy and happiness but for many women who have been forced from their homes by conflict or by sudden natural disasters it is also a time of great fear and stress. Take a look at how these courageous mums overcame danger and despair to ensure their babies had the best chance at life.

© UNICEF/UN0203371/Sokol

15-day walk to safety

Yasmin was forced to make the gruelling 15-day journey on foot to Bangladesh pregnant and with her two young children after her village in Myanmar was burnt down. She had just lost her husband and two sons who were murdered by the Myanmar military.

“I was pregnant, so it was very hard,” she said.

“When I left my village, I didn’t believe any of us would survive.”

Yasmin and her two children would often travel at night. Her four-year-old daughter, Janat, would walk beside her while she carried her three-year-old boy, Shahed, in her scarf trying to keep him quiet.  

Now in Shamlapur refugee camp in Bangladesh, Yasmin is still worried as she lives alone with her children and newborn baby boy, Mahiyam. “Any man can hurt me,” she said. The 23-year-old mother and widow hopes her son will be educated, strong and successful. She says this will help her find forgiveness for what happened in Myanmar.
© UNICEF/UNI189492/Panday

Labour during an earthquake

Rojina was lying in the delivery room of a remote village, preparing to give birth to her first child when the walls began to tremble because of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. As the building started to crumble, health workers acted quickly to carry Rojina to safety.

Against all odds Rojina delivered a healthy baby boy.

She named him Himal, but neighbours in his village were quick to give him a nickname: Bhukampa Bahadur - ‘earthquake brave’.

“They come here every day just to see him, hoping that he brings good luck to them,” Rojina said.

The earthquake in Nepal in 2015 killed nearly 9,000 people and affected the lives of more than a million children. It destroyed homes and community infrastructure like health facilities.

UNICEF was quick to set up a medical tent so that lifesaving work could continue. It allowed baby Himal to get the health care he needed in the essential first few months of his life.
© UNICEF/UN0118460/Sokhin

Escaping Boko Haram pregnant


Zanieb’s husband was killed when Boko Haram invaded her home in Gwoza, Nigeria.  

“I had been married for one month. Boko Haram invaded and killed my husband,” she said.

Women like Zanieb were forced to marry members of the Boko Haram group and were threatened with death if they rebelled.

“I asked them how can I marry them when they killed my husband? We resisted so they took me and my mother and flogged us,” she said.

Zanieb became  pregnant but managed to escape. She gave birth almost 900 kilometres away from her home in Giwa, to a healthy baby boy named Abdulai.

“People associate us with Boko Haram, but I love Abdulai. I would sacrifice my life for him,” she said. “I hope and wish and pray for him to become influential in life.

Maybe when I see him successful I will forget about all the suffering he has been through in life".

© UNICEF/UN047981/Al-Issa

Born into war

Hala arrived with her mother and older sister at  a shelter in Jibreen, Syria, after fleeing fighting in the city of Aleppo. Many such families who have escaped conflict and violence have only the clothes on them and a few small belongings.

“Hala was born during the worst times for our family,” says Hala’s mother who is relieved to have escaped east Aleppo, but remains desperately worried about Hala’s safety.

“When we fled our neighborhood I was so concerned about Hala especially after I heard that a baby died because of the cold in the shelter.”

As temperatures continue to drop, families who remain in shelters and other areas are facing the bitter cold with little protection.
© UNICEF/UN0118485/Shrestha

Birth amid gushing floods

Ram expected to give birth to her fourth child at a medical facility in Nepal. But as she felt the first pains of labour, flood-waters gushed through her home.

Incessant rainfall in August 2017 triggered widespread flooding and landslides and claimed the lives of 159 people. The disaster impacted 1.7 million people and temporarily displaced more than 350,000 children, women and men throughout the country.

Because roads to the city where Ram lived were either flooded or damaged, she could not be transported to a health facility for delivery.

Her husband, Hari, managed to carry her to a nearby school building just in time and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl surrounded by women from her village.
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