ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a sexual and reproductive health agency, has painted a bleak picture of women affected by the unprecedented floods as it said that at least 650,000 pregnant women, of whom 73,000 are expected to deliver next month, in the flood-affected areas are in dire need of maternal health service.
The UN agency also warned that many women and girls were at an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) as almost one million houses were damaged in the floods that spelled suffering for millions across Pakistan.
“Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support,” the agency said, adding that pregnancies and childbirth cannot wait for emergencies or natural disasters to be over as this is when a woman and baby are vulnerable and need the most care.
“UNFPA is on the ground, working with partners, to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers continue receiving life-saving services even under the most challenging conditions,” acting UNFPA Pakistan Representative Dr Bakhtior Kadirov said.
UNHCR asks world to step up support for flood victims
According to the UN agency, over 1,000 health facilities were either partially or fully damaged in Sindh, whereas 198 health facilities were damaged in the affected districts in Balochistan. The damage to roads and bridges also compromised girls’ and women’s access to health facilities, it added.
“We will continue supporting health facilities with the equipment and human resources to be fully operational despite the challenging humanitarian conditions,” said Dr Kadirov.
In a bid to ramp up its emergency response, the UNFPA Pakistan procured 8,311 dignity kits, 7,411 newborn baby kits, and 6,412 clean delivery kits for immediate delivery to Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab.
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The UN agency said it was also prioritising gender-based violence prevention and response services, including medical and psychosocial support to the survivors of GBV.
UNHCR appeals for more help
As the UNHCR has delivered relief items in the worst-hit areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi asked the international community to step up its support and help Pakistan’s response to the catastrophe.
“Rain and floods have been catastrophic for millions of people. We urgently need global support and solidarity for Pakistan in these dire times,’’ said Filippo Grandi.
Over 30 million people in Pakistan have been affected by torrential rains and flash floods across the country, leaving 6.4 million people in need of immediate support. Since June, hundreds of thousands have been displaced by the floods, and are now living in camps, or with host families.
So far, UNHCR has provided refugee villages, as well as host communities, with more than 71,000 emergency relief items, including tents, plastic tarpaulins, sanitary products, cooking stoves, blankets, solar lamps, and sleeping mats.
In addition, UNHCR delivered 10,000 sacks to help households build up defences around their homes. “This assistance to date amounts to over $1.5 million, but much more aid is needed,” its press release said.
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2022