Statement at the Tsunami Ministerial-Level Donors' Meeting

11 January 2005
Author: UNFPA

UNFPA, as part of a coordinated United Nations response, is committed to keeping survivors of the tsunami alive and supporting their efforts to recover. We are especially focused on making sure that women get the targeted support they need and that gender concerns are factored into the design and delivery of humanitarian efforts. At times like this, women are the pillars of relief because they are often the ones who care for children, the sick and injured, the elderly and other survivors.

Of particular concern are more than 150,000 pregnant women, of whom 50,000 will give birth during the next three months. Damage to health facilities and loss of basic delivery care supplies has jeopardized their chances to deliver under safe and clean conditions. To address these and other urgent needs, UNFPA has made available $3 million for emergency response and last week issued an appeal for $28 million to help meet the urgent health, hygiene and protection needs for women and youth in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the three hardest hit countries. Given the tremendous outpouring of solidarity and support, we are optimistic that donors will respond generously to this appeal.

UNFPA has been working with partners from the start to assess immediate needs, deliver life-saving medicines and supplies to enable pregnant women to deliver their babies safely and to reestablish emergency obstetric care and other health services. In times of high stress, pregnant women are more prone to miscarriage or to premature labour, which require medical assistance. Also, food shortages can lead to vitamin and iron deficiencies, especially anaemia, which can be fatal for pregnant women and their babies.

We are deploying hygiene kits and working to ensure that sanitary napkins and locally appropriate clothing are part of the mix of humanitarian assistance. In addition, UNFPA is monitoring and addressing sexual abuse and gender-based violence and exploitation, which often increase during periods of stress and crisis. UNFPA is also working with governments and local partners to provide psycho-social support, especially for households newly headed by women, to help them deal with what they have been through and gather the strength they need to rebuild their lives and communities. UNFPA believes that the support of women and youth must be an urgent priority during this critical period to strengthen families and communities that will speed recovery and reconstruction in the months and years to come.

Population : 273.5 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 78%
Girls 80%

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