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Semira – Emergency Case Management

Semira is like most other four year olds. She likes to play dress up, is shy around strangers, and gets annoyed with her two-year old sister for borrowing her clothes. What sets Semira apart is her determination to keep on smiling. Two years ago, fighting erupted in Semira’s small village in Aleppo province.  With only what they could carry, her family fled to a neighboring village in Syria. When they returned, the family house was completely destroyed, along with all of their possessions. With nothing left in Syria, Semira and her parents moved to the relative safety of southeastern Turkey In just two small rooms, Semira lives with her father, mother, sister, grandmother, uncle, and a baby cousin.  When they first arrived, Semira often cried herself to sleep; “Like all of us, she missed her life in Syria” says her father.   


The local Turkish neighbors have been very welcoming, but language continues to be a barrier for the family. Sometimes Semira’s parents struggle to communicate with their Turkish community, but as with most children, language differences are easily overcome by Semira and her sister. Both girls have made many friends with the local Turkish children and especially enjoy playing on the swings together. The sisterly bond is obvious even to an outsider, however, it is threatened by scuffles over sharing clothing. “Khadija (Semira’s sister) always wants to wear what Semira is wearing.  They get along very well, until they wear each other’s clothes.  Then, well, they argue,” laughs Semira’s mother.  “This is why they are wearing very similar outfits today – to keep the peace.”


Last year, an unfortunate household accident scalded Semira and she was rushed to the local Doctors without Borders (MSF) clinic. Semira was badly burned all over her torso. When she woke up the next morning in the clinic, Semira begged to look in the mirror.  “She just starting crying and crying” remembers her mother.  “I was so frightened for her. I asked her where it hurt.  Semira said she was crying because her hair was amess!”  Even at the young age of four, Semira is very conscious of how she looks. After all, she wants to be a famous actress when she grows up. Following initial treatment, Semira was still in urgent need of a special garment to prevent scarring and reduce discomfort.  However, the family had no money and no insurance to pay for the costly garment. 


After a consultation with MSF, IOM Turkey quickly responded to provide the little girl with the doctor-prescribed silicon pressure garment. Four months after receiving the garment, IOM visited Semira’s family who already noticed its benefits, both physically and mentally. Semira was the first case for IOM Turkey’s Emergency Case Management team who provides one-off, immediate assistance for some of the most vulnerable people. By providing individualized ad hoc funding, the ECM program supports both individuals and families with specific, complex or multiple assistance needs which are not addressed through existing humanitarian services or programs. Funds for Semira’s treatment were provided by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

IOM Mission to Turkey
Birlik Mahallesi Şehit Kurbani Akboğa Sokak No:24
Çankaya/Ankara Türkiye

Tel: +90 (312) 454 30 00
Fax: +90 (312) 496 14 95
e-posta: ankmission@iom.int
IOM Istanbul Sub Office
Address: Barbaros Bulvarı Orhan Birman İş Merkezi 
Kat:2 No:149 Balmumcu / Beşiktaş / Istanbul, Turkey

Phone : +90 (212) 293 50 00
Fax :+90 (212) 249 27 33
e-posta: iomistanbul@iom.int
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Address: Güvenevler Mahallesi 29069.Sokak
No:15 Tugay Şehitkamil/ Gaziantep - Türkiye

Phone : +90 342 220 45 80

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