While visiting refugee camps in Kenya late last week, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin emphasized the dire situation of women as a result of the famine in the Horn of Africa. According to the UNFPA “12.4 million people have been affected by severe drought,” and 3.7 million people have been displaced in Somalia. The UNFPA is focusing its support specifically on women because around 80 percent of refugees in these three areas are women. OXFAM estimates that for every 100,000 live births, at least 298 women die in these areas, and the numbers are rising.
Osotimehin stressed the need to provide services to lactating and pregnant women in the Horn of Africa, which is currently facing a dire shortage of medical supplies and reproductive health providers. He stated, “We will do everything to help mothers like you. We are here to look at the ways that mothers affected by the famine can receive better help. UNFPA will scale up its activities and strengthen them towards addressing gender issues such as gender-based violence and uptake of reproductive health services.”
In an effort to save the lives of pregnant women and women with newborns in the drought-stricken areas of Somalia and some parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is distributing reproductive healthcare kits. The health kits include sanitary pads, soap, underwear and other hygiene items. UNFPA is also training midwives to provide necessary reproductive health services.
UNFPA 9/2/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/2/11