Press Release

Bangladesh: UNFPA seeks US$ 1.5 million for emergency reproductive health services

9 June 2017
Evacuees were relocated to some 400 shelters, schools and government offices. Photo: AFP

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Bangladesh is urgently seeking US$ 1.5 million to boost emergency reproductive health services and safety for women, girls and newborns impacted by Cyclone Mora.

Initial assessments show that over 300,000 people had to be evacuated in the 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 an estimated 4,400 pregnant and lactating women, 1,300 of whom are expected to deliver in the next three months.

UNFPA has mobilised its own resources, but requires more funding to meet the overwhelming needs of emergency relief. UNFPA is immediately redeploying midwives to health facilities and hard-to-reach areas to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care. The midwives will serve cyclone-affected women and girls, especially those among the undocumented Myanmar Rohingya refugees staying in Cox’s Bazar district. UNFPA has also distributed 300 Clean Delivery Kits that include all essential equipment for child delivery in hard hit areas.

In Cox's Bazar district, evidence from other emergencies shows that significant numbers of women may face an increased risk of gender-based violence over the next year.  Women and girls have reported feeling unsafe while 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.

One woman from the hard hit southeastern coastal district of Shamlapur shared her ordeal with UNFPA:

“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 its signature Dignity Kits, which include burkas, personal hygiene supplies, a torch and a whistle. UNFPA is also working with the police to increase night-time safety patrols.

Additionally, UNFPA is helping set up a number of 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,” notes Iori Kato, Acting Representative of UNFPA Bangladesh. “We need to act now to ensure that mothers and newborns get the crucial life-saving care they need.”

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For more on UNFPA's work in humanitarian settings, access our resources:

UNFPA Responding to Emergencies Across Asia and the Pacific: http://asiapacific.unfpa.org/en/publications/unfpa-responding-emergencies-across-asia-and-pacific

UNFPA: Humanitarian Emergencies - What we do globally: http://www.unfpa.org/emergencies

State of World Population Report 2015: Shelter from the Storm: A transformative agenda for women and girls in a crisis-prone world: http://www.unfpa.org/swop-2015