Press Release

In Timor-Leste Camps, UNFPA Helps Pregnant Women Deliver Their Babies Safely

08 June 2006

DILI, Timor-Leste — Safeguarding the health of an estimated 3,000 pregnant women left homeless by strife in the Timorese capital is a priority for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

An interagency humanitarian coordination group under the leadership of the Minister of Labour and Reinsertion is working to meet the needs of about 70,000 people that have taken refuge in their majority in religious institutions. As part of that effort, UNFPA, Health Alliance International and the East Timor Medical Association have helped the Ministry of Health and local authorities to cope with the demand of maternal health services among the displaced.

With as many as five deliveries occurring on any given day, ensuring timely transport of women in labour to the National Hospital for Women remains an urgent concern. UNFPA is supporting the Ministry of Health in establishing a settlement within the hospital to accommodate pregnant women and their families during the last two weeks of pregnancy and a week after delivery. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the World Food Programme (WFP) are providing the needed logistical and nutritional support.

A team of obstetricians, general practitioners and midwives now visits the camps daily to provide antenatal care, including tetanus vaccinations and supplementary food provided by WFP. The team is monitoring pregnant women who are close to delivery. UNFPA is also supplying fuel for the ambulances to ensure round-the-clock health services in the camps.

“Timor-Leste has one of the highest birth rates in the world and faces many challenges in maternal and infant health in normal times,” notes Dr. Hernando Agudelo, UNFPA’s representative in Timor-Leste. “During a crisis, we need to be even more vigilant to ensure that pregnant women receive adequate obstetric services.”

UNFPA is also working with the national women non-governmental organization network to protect displaced women and girls against sexual violence, which often escalates in emergency situations. Members of the NGO network and partners against gender-based violence, including the government office for the promotion of equality, are developing an action plan to raise awareness and provide protection and services to potential victims within the current situation.


UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.


Contact Information:

Dili: Hernando Agudelo, tel.+670 723 0588,

Bangkok: William A. Ryan, tel.+66 2 288 2446,

New York: Omar Gharzeddine, tel.+1 212-297-5028,

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