Press Release

UNFPA Rushes Supplies and Personnel to Save Pregnant Women in Syria

20 March 2018

UNITED NATIONS, Cairo, 20 March 2018 -- Clashes between armed groups in the Syrian towns of East Ghouta and the northern city of Afrin threaten the lives and health of 700,000 people. As of 18 March, 200,000 people have fled their homes, over 60 per cent of whom are women of childbearing age. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, conducted field missions in the northern areas on 17 and 18 March and found over 20,000 families living in temporary shelters and another 8,000 in local schools. Many had walked for 36 hours to safety, bringing with them only what they could carry. 

 

“Tens of thousands of families have escaped violence and taken shelter in neighboring communities in the past 48 hours,” said Massimo Diana, UNFPA Syria Country Representative. “Our response teams were the first to reach the impacted areas in northern Syria to deliver humanitarian assistance, with particular attention to the needs of women and girls who face increased vulnerability in crisis situations.”

The town of Tal Rifaat, near the Turkish border, has in particular been overwhelmed by the rapid arrival of so many families seeking a safe haven. Women and girls lack safe areas to attend to their needs, such as nursing their children. There are reports of mothers giving birth and having miscarriages while in flight, including a 30-year old woman who told UNFPA staff that she delivered her child alone on the road. The situation continues to worsen with a reported bombardment of Afrin Hospital, the only facility in the area capable of providing emergency care. A UNFPA mobile clinic established immediately following news of the massive displacement had served 50 pregnant women in just four hours. A standard UNFPA clinic with trained personnel can support 10,000 women for three months.

UNFPA and partners are providing supplies and services to cover reproductive health needs and to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, which is an elevated risk during situations of acute emergency. It is making available sanitation and hygiene supplies, as well as medical equipment for safe delivery. The UNFPA humanitarian appeal for the Syrian East Ghouta and Afrin response is $9 million.

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For Additional Information

Massimo Diana, UNFPA Syria, phone +963933230412, email: diana@unfpa.org

Jeffrey Bates, UNFPA New York, phone: + 1 212 297 5208, email: bates@unfpa.org