Press Release

UNFPA Sends Emergency Health Supplies to Alleviate Crisis in Lebanon, Calls for Protection of Civilians

21 July 2006
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York — As the humanitarian situation in Lebanon continues to deteriorate, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is shipping supplies to help protect the health of women and their families. The Fund is also working with the Ministry of Health and local and international organizations to meet the longer term needs of the displaced population.

The United Nations estimates that some 500,000 people have already been displaced since the crisis began, and that this number could rise to 800,000 if fighting continues. These people are facing water shortages, lack of medical assistance and other hardships.

UNFPA is responding to a request from the Lebanese Ministry of Health for urgent supplies and medicines to address the immediate needs. These include clean delivery supplies to enable pregnant women to deliver safely, equipment to help ensure safe blood supply in damaged or temporary health facilities, and hygiene kits, including soap, washcloths and sanitary supplies for displaced women and their families living in temporary shelters.

“I join the United Nations Secretary-General in calling for the end of hostilities and the establishment of safe corridors for humanitarian workers and relief supplies to reach civilians in Lebanon,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. “That is particularly urgent due to the large number of women and children affected by the situation.”

Insecurity, combined with damaged or unreachable health facilities, are jeopardizing the health of displaced women who are pregnant. One in five women of childbearing age are likely to be pregnant, and 15 per cent of these could experience complications requiring emergency obstetric care. Under such conditions, these women face grave risks, including an increased likelihood of miscarriage, bleeding, premature delivery, and other complications. Pregnancy and birthing complications are the leading causes of death and disabilities for displaced women and girls in times of upheaval, as reproductive health information and services become unavailable.

UNFPA is also sending emergency reproductive health supplies to meet the needs of more than 100,000 refugees who have crossed the border into Syria. It is also preparing a more comprehensive humanitarian action plan as part of an upcoming United Nations donor appeal.

In addition, UNFPA is deploying emergency health specialists to provide technical support, assist in rapid assessments of longer-term health needs, and help ensure that the health, psychological well-being, and protection of women and adolescents are factored into the planning of overall humanitarian assistance.

***

The United Nations Population Fund is an international development agency that promotes the rights 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:

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028
Email: gharzeddine@unfpa.org

Henrietta Aswad
Tel.: + 962 777 65 4544
Email: aswad@unfpa.org

 David del Vecchio
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-4975
Email: delvecchio@unfpa.org  

Lebanon
Population : 6.8 mil
Fertility rate
2.1
Maternal Mortality Ratio
29
Contraceptives prevalence rate
29
Population aged 10-24
25.3%

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