UN agency requests aid for pregnant Myanmar refugees

19 Sep 17

The United Nations Population Fund is seeking $13m to provide reproductive health care and prevention against gender-based violence to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Dozens of midwives have been deployed by the UN agency to support local health personnel meet the needs of pregnant women, new mothers and newborns, as well as responding to the needs of victims of sexual violence.

“Women do not stop getting pregnant or having babies just because an emergency hits,” said Iori Kato, UNFPA’s acting representative in Bangladesh.

An estimated 370,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh, of whom two thirds (67%) are women and girls and 13% pregnant or breastfeeding, according to the UNFPA.

More than 400 babies have been born in the land between the borders of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The agency has also distributed clean delivery kits, to help health professionals manage childbirth and post-natal care, and dignity kits for women and girls, including hygiene supplies and a flashlight to safely navigate at night.

“The magnitude of these needs is immense, and growing,” said Kato.

Violence broke out in Myanmar at the end of August when militants attacked government forces. This led to security forces starting a ‘clearance operation’ in the area where most of the Rohingya live. The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority resident in Myanmar’s Rakhine State but are denied citizenship, and so effectively stateless.

Last week, the European Commission announced an additional €3m in humanitarian aid to Bangladesh and Myanmar. The UK also released an additional £25m, on top of the earlier pledge to provide £11m to aid the refugees.

The World Bank group said last week: “Along with the international community, we call on the authorities to ensure the protection of all people residing in Myanmar, and work with all actors to mount an immediate humanitarian response to the crisis in Rakhine State”.

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