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Pregnant women’s struggle in Kyrgyzstan

When the ethnic fighting started in Osh last month, Nurgul was three months pregnant. As the fighting that killed at least 117 people got worse, she had no other choice but to leave her home.

She is one of many pregnant women who had to cope with being pregnant while the country was in a state of emergency. But Nurguk, like many others, also found unsung heroes to look after her in refugee camps − the doctors, nurses and midwives.

With cities in flames and homes and businesses torched, Nurgul ended up in a camp just outside Osh city where she is being monitored by Dr Nora. She only has the most basic equipment but Dr Nora checks her patient's blood pressure and gives Nurgul the micronutrients and vitamins that she left behind when she fled her home.

Uzbek midwife Dr Mukadas looked after pregnant women caught up in the crisis as they gave birth in their homes in the middle of the week-long crisis. "The mother was afraid to cry out during the delivery but she broke down and cried after the baby was born,”she recalled."It is hard to give birth in a world gone mad.

At Khiykharkhan's Jalalabad Maternity Hospital pregnant women were moved to the third floor so that the first and second floors could be used for first aid and surgery for patients with bullet wounds and other injuries.

"Most of the pregnant women were taken home during the first three days of the crisis, "Dr Mukadas told the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), "and out of the 105 women in the maternity ward, only 42 remained."

In the two days between June 12 and 14, some 34 women gave birth, one to twins. Three needed a Caesarean section. Two gave birth prematurely and one woman lost her baby.

"At one point, we were running out of drugs and supplies," she said.

UNFPA, has since restocked dozens of hospitals and Family Medicine Centres, in Osh and Jalalabad, with reproductive health medicines, supplies and equipment, including clean delivery kits for home deliveries, basic rape treatment kits, supplies for management of miscarriage, blood transfusions and clinical delivery.

Ethnic violence flared in the Central Asian republic in June between Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks. After just four days it had turned into one of the worst ethnic riots in 20 years, according to Reuters news service. Witnesses said gangs armed with automatic rifles, iron bars and machetes set fire to houses and shot fleeing residents.

Hayley attribution