UNFPA Dhaka for fund to serve cyclone-hit women and newborns

UNFPA Dhaka for fund to serve cyclone-hit women and newborns

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Dhaka – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday sought for 1.5 million USD to scale up emergency reproductive health services and safety for women and newborns impacted by Cyclone Mora in Bangladesh.Initial assessments reveal that more than 300,000 people had to be evacuated in cyclone affected areas. In the hardest hit district of Cox’s Bazar 72,000 women and girls of reproductive age have been directly affected and require immediate access to sexual and reproductive health services. This includes 4,400 pregnant and lactating women, 1,300 of whom are expected to deliver in the next three months, says a press release.
UNFPA is immediately redeploying midwives to hard health facilities in hard to reach areas and has sent 300 “Clean Delivery Kits” that include all essential equipment for child delivery. Midwives will provide basic emergency obstetric and newborn care. They will serve cyclone-affected women and girls, especially those among the Undocumented Myanmar Nationals staying in Cox’s Bazar district.
An estimated 67,000 girls and women are also at an increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence within the next six months.
Women and girls report feeling unsafe visiting bathing and latrine areas unaccompanied due to a lack of privacy and adequate lighting. The perceived shame of wearing wet, soiled clothing also prevents them from accessing relief services and participating in public life, said the release.
One woman from Shamlapur says, “the clothes I am wearing have been wet for days and the rest are soaked with mud. It is not easy to collect food from the relief agency like this. The bathroom is damaged so I had to wait until dark to use it to not be seen. Women face so many problems after a disaster.”
To help girls and women move around more freely and confidently, UNFPA is distributing thousands of “Dignity Kits” – which include burkas, personal hygiene supplies, a flashlight and a whistle. UNFPA is also working with police to increase nighttime safety patrols.
Additionally, UNFPA is establishing more “Women Friendly Spaces” to provide shelter, referral services and professional case management for survivors of gender-based violence.
“Even when a disaster hits, pregnant and lactating women do not have the option to put their needs on hold,” says Iori Kato, Acting Representative of UNFPA Bangladesh. “We need to act now to ensure that mothers and newborns receive life-saving care.”
“Women and girls should not have to fear violence when trying to rebuild their lives. They deserve to do so in safety and dignity,” he adds.
UNFPA has mobilized its resources, but requires additional funding to meet the overwhelming needs it continues to uncover in managing the Cyclone Mora response. UNFPA is coordinating efforts with partner UN agencies, civil society and the government of Bangladesh. – Staff Reporter

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