UNITED NATIONS, New York – As more than 2.3 million Syrian women and girls of reproductive age continue to bear the brunt of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is seeking around $81 million to continue supporting these women and girls to stay healthy and safe and to care for their families.
“Every Syrian woman must have access to affordable and accessible reproductive health care and be protected from gender-based violence, which can occur at every stage of conflict,” says Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in advance of the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, to take place this week in Kuwait. “As the number of Syrian women and girls of reproductive age is estimated to reach five million by the end of 2014, we count on the international community’s support for UNFPA to continue to deliver lifesaving services to each and every one of them.”
Today, around 1.6 million Syrian women and girls of reproductive age are displaced within Syria while more than 500,000 are refugees in neighboring countries. There are an estimated 50,000 refugees who are currently pregnant and require care, and around 21,000 newborns whose mothers are refugees. Around 75 per cent of the refugees live outside formal settlements, and 43 per cent of those families are headed by women who face severe economic challenges.
UNFPA’s lifesaving services to women and girls of reproductive age are aimed at reducing maternal morbidity and death within Syria and in countries affected by the crisis. In 2013, UNFPA provided reproductive and maternal health services, including emergency obstetric care, to nearly two million Syrian women and assisted in more than 10,000 normal deliveries and 5,000 Caesarean sections.
In addition, UNFPA ensured the provision of free reproductive health services through the establishment of an innovative voucher system within Syria which has so far benefitted 110,000 women. More than 600,000 dignity kits containing basic hygiene items, such as soap and sanitary pads, were also distributed. UNPFA supported 93 health facilities and mobile clinics within Syria and established more than 20 reproductive health and mobile clinics in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
UNFPA has also established services to ensure that women are protected from gender-based violence and that survivors can seek help. As one indication, we can report that three UNFPA-supported women's centres in Damascus reported screening more than 1,500 cases of GBV in 2013 through a self-assessment form that saw a wide spectrum of violations ranging from domestic violence to sexual harassment and rape. In 2013, nearly 38,000 survivors of gender-based violence within Syria were provided with psychosocial support. The Fund also established 31 safe spaces for women and 21 youth friendly spaces in camps and host communities, where awareness sessions are conducted as an entry-point for the prevention of violence, including early marriage and trafficking.