Press Release

Australia pledges significant additional support for UNFPA’s emergency humanitarian work in Afghanistan to save the lives of women and girls

20 June 2017
Australia pledges significant additional support for UNFPA’s emergency humanitarian work in Afghanistan to save the lives of women and girls
Australia pledges significant additional support for UNFPA’s emergency humanitarian work in Afghanistan to save the lives of women and girls

Australia pledges significant additional support for UNFPA’s emergency humanitarian work in Afghanistan to save the lives of women and girls

Two million Australian dollars to support crucial reproductive health care and address violence against women among internally displaced people and returning migrants

Kabul 20 June 2017 - The Government of Australia has stepped up its long-running support for the crucial work the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, does in Afghanistan with a pledge of two million Australian dollars for emergency reproductive health care and supplies along with services to tackle violence against women among internally displaced people and returning migrants.

The funds, facilitated by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and to be dispersed through UNFPA over 12 months, will ensure reproductive health supplies, well-trained medical staff, counsellors and community mobilisers are on hand to provide quality care and support at facilities, including; the centre near the Torkham border crossing – a key crossing point on the Kabul-Peshawar-Islamabad route.

 

In recent months, the numbers of Afghan civilians returning to their homeland after many years as refugees in neighbouring Pakistan have significantly increased, putting a severe strain on Afghan authorities and relief organisations to cope with the influx.

“Sexual and reproductive health challenges are the leading cause of death and disability among women and girls and these challenges are exacerbated in humanitarian situations” said Richard Feakes, the Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan. “The Australian Aid program is committed to protecting the most vulnerable, including women and children.  Australia is proud to partner with UNFPA to help provide critical life-saving assistance in sexual and reproductive health and safety from gender based violence.”

In support of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, the funds will strengthen training for health providers in emergency obstetric and newborn care, and in implementing international standards in preventing and responding to gender-based violence in emergencies.

Emergency reproductive health kits with equipment and supplies that help ensure safer pregnancy and childbirth will be procured and placed at health facilities serving crisis-affected populations, and around 2,200 of UNFPA’s signature Dignity Kits, that contain crucial health, hygiene and safety products for women and girls in emergencies, will be distributed.

“These funds will help us save the lives of women and girls, and particularly pregnant women and newborns,” said Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, UNFPA’s Representative in Afghanistan.

“This will also help keep displaced women and girls safe, and help them maintain dignity in trying times. We’re truly grateful to the government and people of Australia for their generous commitment to women and girls in Afghanistan.”

 

According to the United Nations 2017 humanitarian needs study, an estimated 9.3 million people in Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance, with 372,000 women who are pregnant at the time of such need. These include returnees, internally displaced people and those living in remote areas.

UNFPA studies indicate that violence against women often increases in emergencies globally, and in Afghanistan the country’s latest demographic and health survey (2015) indicates that over half of all Afghan women between the ages of 15 and 49 have reported experiencing physical violence at some point in their lives.

In providing these humanitarian emergency services, UNFPA will complement the work being done by other agencies and providers, including under the International Organization of Migration (IOM) transit centre at Torkham.

Ultimately all of these joint humanitarian efforts conducted in partnership with government and civil society stakeholders, and with the key support of donors such as the Australian Government, seek to fulfil the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” said Dr. Ndyanabangi. “By focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable, we seek to ensure that – as the Sustainable Development Goals pledge – no one is left behind.”


Additional Resources:

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Humanitarian preparedness and response: http://bit.ly/2sqij7J

UNFPA responding to emergencies across Asia and the Pacific (2016): http://bit.ly/2t87Omm

UNFPA Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health Needs in Emergencies: http://bit.ly/2sgiEud


For more information, please contact:

Ahmadullah Amarkhil, UNFPA Communication Officer, e-mail: amarkhil@unfpa.org