TEHRAN, 27 November 2013 (UNIC)—Two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan caused unprecedented devastation in the Philippines, over 3.2 million women and girls of reproductive age are still in need of urgent care and protection. As health infrastructures have been destroyed and security remains a concern, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has taken the lead in developing a $110 million master plan with national authorities and humanitarian partners to ensure that no woman dies giving birth and that each woman and girl is protected from violence at home and in her community. As part of this plan, UNFPA requested from donors $30 million to fulfill its commitments in the next six months.
UNFPA estimates that there are currently 230,000 pregnant women in affected areas, while 835 women are giving birth every day with very limited access to emergency obstetric care. Funds are urgently needed so that UNFPA, together with partners, can provide lifesaving maternal health services through 80 temporary maternity wards, 2 emergency obstetric theaters in containers and 34 ambulances, including motorbikes. Women and girls of reproductive age will have access to basic hygiene items, such as sanitary pads, underwear and soap, through the distribution of 105,000 dignity kits in evacuation centres. An additional 110,000 kits will be distributed to pregnant and lactating women. UNFPA will also ensure that 4,000 women every week have access to reproductive health care services by providing equipment and repairing infrastructures in all 8 affected provinces.
Based on national data, approximately 375,000 women and girls in their lifetime would have experienced sexual violence in the affected areas prior to the disaster. Without adequate attention and protection measures, this number could increase by 65,000. “In the rush to provide assistance, women and girls were invisible,” says Ms. Ugochi Daniels, Chief of UNFPA’s Humanitarian Response “we now must ensure that their needs are met so that every woman and every girl affected by Typhoon Haiyan is protected and lives with dignity.”
From Ormoc to Cebu City, trafficking was taking place prior to the humanitarian crisis—women are now increasingly at risk because of the desperation for aid and alternative livelihoods. UNFPA will therefore support the deployment of female police officer teams in 196 municipalities and the reconstruction of safe havens in 4 regions. UNFPA will also create women spaces in evacuation centres while strengthening interagency protection mechanisms in 700 villages and barangays.
“When emergencies strike, women overcome immense obstacles to provide care and safety for others even as their own vulnerabilities increase,” says Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s Executive Director. “Targeted support to women is one of the best ways to ensure the health, security and well-being of families and entire communities.”