Press Release

UN Population Fund And IFRC Will Work To Make Pregnancy and Childbirth Safer in Disaster Situations

20 June 2002
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York -- Refugee women's need for safe birthing and reproductive health care is a critical humanitarian issue that calls for stepped up relief efforts and cooperation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said today in statements as they marked World Refugee Day by agreeing to boost cooperation in this area.

Yesterday at a ceremony in Geneva, the Executive Director of UNFPA, Thoraya Obaid, and the secretary general of the IFRC, Didier Cherpitel signed a Memorandum of Understanding and pledged to expand and deepen the organizations' existing relationship. UNFPA is the world's largest provider of reproductive health assistance, IFRC is the world's largest humanitarian network.

"Women's need for reproductive health care is not suspended in a disaster," Ms. Obaid said. "When disasters force people to flee their communities, women and girls become more vulnerable to health risks such as HIV/AIDS, pregnancy complications and sexual violence. UNFPA and IFRC aim to reduce that vulnerability by working together to provide health care services and other activities for refugees and internally displaced persons."

Mr. Cherpitel noted that the two organizations would "aim to build on our existing co-operation … by emphasizing reproductive health needs in man-made or natural disasters when large population movements can take place and the vulnerability of women is greatly increased."

UNFPA and IFRC pledged to work together in disaster and conflict situations to initiate and strengthen reproductive health services to combat HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, provide equipment and contraceptives, and integrate these activities into the primary health care services provided by IFRC and its member national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, it has provided some $5.6 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development efforts.

Contact Information:

Kristin Hetle
Tel.: +1 212-297-5020
Email: hetle@unfpa.org

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