UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has said that it is working with national and local authorities to scale up emergency response to reach women and girls impacted by two powerful earthquakes that struck south-eastern Turkey near the Syrian border on Monday.
“UNFPA is committed to support the people of Turkey and Syria affected by the earthquakes, including the pregnant women who are expected to give birth in the coming weeks under these difficult conditions,” said Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director on Tuesday.
“Their ability to access quality care before, during and after delivery must not be an afterthought.”
Thousands of buildings, including UNFPA-supported maternity facilities, youth centres and women’s and girls’ safe spaces, have collapsed or been severely damaged. UNFPA’s immediate priority is to re-establish services that are critical to the health, well-being and protection of women and girls, according to a statement.
UNFPA has offices and operations in the affected areas and was immediately on the ground assessing the impacts and preparing to support the emergency response in coordination with the authorities and partners, with additional personnel on standby for deployment, Xinhua news agency reported.
Despite logistical challenges, UNFPA has already started delivering reproductive health services to earthquake survivors through existing delivery points in Turkey and is also distributing dignity kits, containing basic hygiene items.
In Syria, according to the statement, blankets and warm clothes in addition to dignity kits are being provided to women and girls in need. Mobile health teams and field clinics have been deployed to provide reproductive health and protection services to affected people in the four worst-hit governorates, where women and girls’ safe spaces will also be established.
The provision of cash payments, which ensure women and girls can access health services and information, including for gender-based violence prevention and response, will be rapidly assessed and provided based on funding availability, according to the statement.
Prepositioned life-saving reproductive health supplies, including medicines to manage obstetric emergencies, will be distributed in affected areas this week, the statement added.