[Press Release] UNFPA scaling up emergency response to
New York/Geneva, Feb. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is working with national and local authorities to scale up its emergency response to reach women and girls impacted by two powerful earthquakes that struck south-eastern Türkiye near the Syrian border on Monday. Thousands of people have died and many more have been injured, with the numbers expected to rise in the coming days and weeks. Both the Governments of Türkiye and Syria have declared national emergencies and called for international support.
At least 15 million people in Türkiye and more than 7 million across Syria have been impacted by the quakes including thousands of pregnant women who need access to maternal health services.
“UNFPA is committed to support the people of Türkiye and Syria affected by the earthquakes, including the pregnant women who are expected to give birth in the coming weeks under these difficult conditions,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA. “Their ability to access quality care before, during and after delivery must not be an afterthought.”
Thousands of buildings, including UNFPA-supported maternity facilities, youth centres and women’s and girls’ safe spaces, have collapsed or been severely damaged. UNFPA’s immediate priority is to re-establish services that are critical to the health, well-being and protection of women and girls.
UNFPA has offices and operations in the affected areas and was immediately on the ground assessing the impacts and preparing to support the emergency response in coordination with the authorities and partners, with additional personnel on standby for deployment.
Despite logistical challenges, UNFPA has already started delivering reproductive health services to earthquake survivors through existing delivery points in Türkiye and is also distributing dignity kits, containing basic hygiene items.
In Syria, blankets and warm clothes in addition to dignity kits are being provided to women and girls in need. Mobile health teams and field clinics have been deployed to provide reproductive health and protection services to affected people in the four worst-hit governorates, where women and girls’ safe spaces will also be established. The provision of cash payments, which ensure women and girls can access health services and information, including for gender-based violence prevention and response, will be rapidly assessed and provided based on funding availability.
Prepositioned life-saving reproductive health supplies, including medicines to manage obstetric emergencies, will be distributed in affected areas this week.
“The lives of so many people have been torn apart,” said Dr. Kanem. “Amidst the devastation and uncertainty that natural disasters bring, UNFPA will continue to do what is needed and what it does best: respond to women’s and girls’ emergency healthcare and protection needs.”
UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. UNFPA’s mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, quality maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.
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