Press Release

Haitian Women and Girls Require Life-Saving Assistance in the Wake of Severe Weather

12 September 2008
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 12 September 2008—More than 800,000 people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Haiti in the wake of hurricanes Fay and Gustav and tropical storm Hanna. Houses, medical facilities, main roads and bridges have been destroyed, and an estimated 100,000 people have sought refuge in temporary shelters.

The crisis-affected population includes some 24,000 pregnant women. Eight thousand are due to deliver in the next three months and many need basic antenatal care and support for any complications. In any population, even in the best of times, about one in seven women will have complications that require emergency obstetric care or surgical delivery. Of the pregnant Haitian women in the disaster affected areas, over a thousand will need such care. Limited access to emergency obstetric care puts the lives of these women--and their babies--at risk.

In a Flash Appeal launched today in New York, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is requesting $1.5 million to ensure pregnant women have access to emergency obstetric care, medical supplies, and skilled medical professionals, such as obstetricians and midwives, to ensure safe child delivery.

The funds will also help UNFPA protect women and girls affected by the crisis from exploitation and all forms of violence, and to facilitate access to both food and non-food items for marginalized groups, especially individuals living with HIV and disabilities, while monitoring human rights violations.

Tens of thousands of homes have been severely and partially damaged, leaving families without shelter and access to basic supplies, such as clothes, soap and toothbrushes. UNFPA will use the requested funds to distribute essential non-food items and provide women with access to sanitation stations. A rapid assessment, which will be conducted to establish the economic and housing needs of those affected, will serve to better inform the government and the international community responses.

UNFPA will work in close cooperation with the Haitian Government and civil society, with other United Nations agencies, such as the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, as well as with international and local non-governmental organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration and the Haitian Red Cross. UNFPA will also support these agencies in protecting vulnerable women and their families from all forms of violence, preventing separation of families, and providing individuals with psychosocial care, when needed.

These interventions will complement UNFPA activities in response to the impact of tropical storm Hanna on the island of Hispaniola. For the crisis-affected region of Gonaives, as well as the South-East and Central Plateau, UNFPA has already been working to identify and fund additional medical staff and provide medical teams with supplies for safe child delivery, and to ensure qualified care providers are available in shelters and health centres.

Contact information:

Trygve Olfarnes
Temp. Phone : + 011 507 301-7362
Email: olfarnes@unfpa.org

Shannon Egan
Tel.: 212-297-4975
Email: egan@unfpa.org

Haiti
Population : 11.4 mil
Fertility rate
2.8
Maternal Mortality Ratio
480
Contraceptives prevalence rate
27
Population aged 10-24
29.9%

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