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Jul 13, 2018

We somehow think life freezes but Rohingya women were pregnant before they fled Myanmar

“So often we don’t think of pregnant women in crises. We somehow think life freezes. But [Rohingya] women were pregnant before they fled Myanmar, women get pregnant by their husbands and by men who rape them. Childbirth stops for nothing” – Ashley Judd, Actress and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.

Over the last six months, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh hosts the majority of these refugees. Earlier this year, actress and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Ashley Judd visited Cox’s Bazar and met with many of the women living there. At that time, 34,000 of the newly arrived refugees were pregnant.

In her diaries, she writes about her visits to UNFPA-supported women friendly spaces and clinics that support maternal care. In one camp, the midwives have screened more than 170,000 women since August of last year—both refugees and women from the host communities—for pregnancy and medical needs.

With monsoon rains unleashing floods and landslides in Bangladesh, UNFPA and partner agencies are urgently working to secure Rohingya refugee camps and settlements in Cox’s Bazar district. Over 29,000 people have already been affected by the rains. Dozens have been injured, and at least one person has been killed.

“The safety of the Rohingya refugees during this monsoon season is priority one,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after visiting refugee services, including UNFPA facilities, amid a downpour.

“As many as 200,000 need to be relocated. We cannot allow the monsoons to wash away the hopes of the Rohingya refugees I met today.”

As the rains intensify, UNFPA is working with partners mitigate monsoon-related risks and to reinforce health centers and safe spaces. 

At the Balukhali health center, the wait for maternal care is jaw-dropping. It splits in three directions.

Among the total and growing refugee population, some 40,000 women have received prenatal care and more than 1,500 babies have been born at UNFPA-supported facilities.

But still, 78% of refugee births take place outside of any health facility. To help, UNFPA has distributed over 12,000 clean delivery kits, encouraging mother to take them to any health facility when labor begins.  During the recent rains, UNFPA’s health facilities and women-friendly spaces saw a decline of more than 60 percent in service use.

UNFPA’s clean delivery kits contains the basic items necessary for a safe birth, including a sanitary mat for child birth, sterile gloves, a bar of soap, a razor, a clamp for the umbilical cord and a suction bulb to clear the newborn’s airway.

As Ashley Judd explains to CNN, “it literally makes the difference between life and death for both mother and newborn.”

For only $15 you can help UNFPA provide 3 emergency clean delivery kits to women without access to maternal health services.

Apr 13, 2018

UNFPA Mobile Reproductive Health Teams Reach Women in Previously Un-reached Area of Aleppo

UNFPA mobile reproductive health teams deployed
UNFPA mobile reproductive health teams deployed

On December 30th, UNFPA became the first UN agency to reach a besieged area of Aleppo. Approximately 65,000 people have been living in Sheikh Maqsoud without access to outside health care. Of these, the majority are women, children, and elderly persons, including 3,000 pregnant women. With humanitarian agencies unable to provide aid during the long siege, many of the women in Sheikh Maqsoud had been without health care for years.

  A single health facility had been operating in Sheikh Maqsoud, with the ability to serve just 50 people a day. UNFPA found the facility overburdened and lacking essential supplies. Reproductive health services were particularly strained. The facility was unable to perform Caesarean sections, leaving many women to carry out unsafe births. And without an ambulance, the facility had no way to transfer patients to outside hospitals.

UNFPA’s clean delivery kits contain basic items necessary for a safe birth, including sterile gloves, a blanket, a plastic sheet, and soap. For only $11 you can help UNFPA provide 3 emergency clean delivery kits to women without access to maternal health services. 

 As soon as UNFPA reached the area, they deployed two mobile reproductive health teams. On the first day of their arrival, UNFPA was able to serve more than 80 women. The teams provided antenatal and postpartum care, as well as offering family planning services and other essential care.  

 UNFPA responders also spoke to families about how the conditions of the siege had impacted the lives of women and girls beyond their access to reproductive health care. With a shortage of school supplies and unreliable electricity provided by generators, children faced steep obstacles to their education. In spite of this, one father swore to UNFPA, “I’ll make sure that my daughter will finish her education.” 

 Going forward, UNFPA plans to open three reproductive health centers. These centers will offer services for women ranging from reproductive health care to support for those affected by gender-based violence. In addition, UNFPA has partnered with Syrian Arab Red Crescent to distribute 1,200 dignity kits. With your help, UNFPA can continue to distribute dignity kits, and make sure women and girls are receiving essentials like soap, sanitary napkins, and underwear.  

 A donation of only $25 can provide one woman in a humanitarian crisis such as the Syrian conflict with a dignity kit that provides flashlights and hygiene essentials, ensuring that she is able to maintain her dignity, health, and security in emergency situations. 

Jan 16, 2018

Safe spaces for Rohingya refugee women

Female volunteers inform women about safe spaces
Female volunteers inform women about safe spaces

Right now, the border shared by Myanmar and Bangladesh is the site of one of the fastest growing refugee populations in the world. Cox’s Bazaar has experienced an influx of over 620,000 refugees in the past three months. The region now hosts one of the world’s densest concentrations of refugees, more than half of which are women and girls. With this overcrowding also come added threats to women and girls.

Women and girls typically become more vulnerable to gender-based violence and sexual assault when displaced by a crisis. Recent reports have confirmed that sexual violence against women and girls is widespread in Cox’s Bazaar. Many women arrived there having already survived brutal sexual assaults.

Some of the most dangerous situations for women occur when they set out to complete daily tasks essential to the survival of themselves and their families. When women walk throughout the camps to collect firewood or use the bathroom, they can find both themselves and their children in a vulnerable situation.

UNFPA is on the ground, providing women with flashlights and lanterns to light the way at night. Volunteers are also creating safe spaces for women and setting up community watch programs, proving that giving women and girls the supplies they need changes and saves lives. 

A donation of only $25 can provide one woman in a humanitarian setting such as the Rohingya refugee crisis with a dignity kit that provides flashlights and hygiene essentials, ensuring that she is able to maintain her dignity, health, and security in emergency situations.

Many women arrive in desperate need of maternal and reproductive health care. Pregnant women and new mothers are particularly in need of safe spaces and health services. Sabekun,  who is 25 weeks pregnant was able to see a UNFPA midwife and share her worries about her baby’s health after she walked for 7 days to flee violence at home. The midwife was able to assure Sabekun that her baby was safe, and helped direct her to a safe place to rest after her exhausting journey.

Women who have already given birth in harsh conditions are also welcomed in UNFPA safe spaces to recover and share their stories and advice with other women. Female volunteers in the community have emerged as trusted keepers of these safe spaces, which many women are calling "shanti ghar" or "safe haven." While here, women can access medical care and counselling referrals. However, sometimes women give birth before they are able to reach a safe space or reproductive health center- and UNFPA is addressing this, as well. 

Merula gave birth a month ago with the help of her mother in a makeshift tent, aided only by her mother. UNFPA created birthing kits to make sure women having emergency births can have access to clean care and necessary items, and help women like Merula have as safe a birth as possible in times of crisis.

UNFPA’s clean delivery kits contain basic items necessary for a safe birth, including sterile gloves, a blanket, a plastic sheet, and soap. For only $11 you can help UNFPA provide 3 emergency clean delivery kits to women without access to maternal health services. 

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