The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been dispatching reproductive health care service providers and necessary resources to Central America, where approximately 1.2 million people have been affected by severe flooding. UNFPA has set up two mobile health centers and distributed over 5,000 kits, which include soap, sanitary pads, and towels, in El Salvador to reach the approximately 300,000 people impacted by the floods. UNFPA is also dispatching doctors and nurses to travel to Guatemala to provide vital maternal health care services.
UNFPA notes “In the aftermath of such natural disasters, women and young people may be left unaccompanied – out in the open or in temporary shelters – as chaos and breakdown in policing could lead to increased lawlessness and attacks. In these circumstances, sexual violence may become widespread.” UNFPA is also deploying professionals to assist sexual violence survivors in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
On October 5, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted along party lines to pass a bill to defund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The vote was 23 to 17, with all 23 Republicans present voting in favor of blocking US funding to UNFPA and all of the Democrats voting against the measure.