News

Australia assists UNFPA's crucial response to the Laos dam collapse

30 July 2018
UNFPA supplies are readied for distribution to women and girls affected by the Attapeu dam collapse in Lao PDR (Image: UNFPA)

As relief operations are stepped up in Attapeu Province, southern Lao PDR, in the wake of last week's devastating dam collapse triggered by heavy rain and flooding, crucial UNFPA supplies for women and girls have reached the country through the assistance of the Australian government.

UNFPA's trademark Dignity Kits and Clean Delivery Kits were among a range of relief supplies that arrived on a Royal Australian Air Force plane at Pakse airfield in Lao PDR, within 48 hours of the Government's request for international assistance.

An Australian military plane arrives at Pakse airfield, Lao PDR, with humanitarian supplies including UNFPA Dignity Kits and Clean Delivery Kits (Image: UNFPA Lao PDR)

UNFPA and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have long partnered on humanitarian response in Asia and the Pacific, in the wake of natural disasters and other crises.  UNFPA supplies are strategically prepositioned at a warehouse in Brisbane, supported by the Australian government, which makes it easier to ship them quickly across the region as and when required. 

UNFPA's Clean Delivery Kits contain supplies that help ensure safer pregnancy and childbirth for women in situations where health facilities have collapsed or are difficult to reach.  Dignity Kits provide basic necessities to support women's health and hygiene needs, including menstrual pads and clean clothes. Often, menstruating women and girls caught up in humanitarian crises are unable to move around freely, which makes it a challenge for them to access basic aid including food and water. The threat of gender-based violence is exacerbated during such situations as well, which makes it important to provide whistles and flashlights within a Dignity Kit so that they can signal for assistance at night or other occasions as necessary.

The Lao PDR military helps ready UNFPA supplies for distribution to flood-stricken Attapeu Province (Image: UNFPA Lao PDR)

A shipping label lists the contents of UNFPA Dignity Kits being distributed to flood-affected areas of Lao PDR (Image: UNFPA Lao PDR)

UNFPA staff involved in the humanitarian response in Attapeu Province confer with local authorities and responders (Image: UNFPA Lao PDR)

Of the more than 11,000 people estimated to be affected by the Lao dam collapse, almost half are women and girls (Image: UNFPA Lao PDR)

Jean-Bernard Carrasco, Australia's Ambassador to Lao PDR, discussed his government's wide-ranging response to the crisis with Lao National Television (LNTV), including the provision of health and hygiene supplies through UNFPA. The entire interview, including footage of UNFPA supplies arriving in Lao PDR, can be accessed below:

 

As the humanitarian response continues, UNFPA Asia-Pacific will provide relevant updates online and via our social media channels, @UNFPAasia on Twitter and http://www.facebook.com/UNFPAAsiaPacific on Facebook.

 

Other resources:

Australia DFAT statement of July 28, 2018: https://foreignminister.gov.au/releases/Pages/2018/jb_mr_180728.aspx

United Nations in Lao PDR website with latest Situation Reports on the crisis: http://www.la.one.un.org/

UNFPA Lao PDR website: http://lao.unfpa.org