At the beginning of the crisis your support meant that we could immediately purchase and distribute UNFPA’s trademark Dignity Kits, with simple things like clean underwear, soap and sanitary napkins. For women moving their entire families across the border, the last thing they needed was to feel shame just for being women. So far, 114,000 women have received these kits.
Women Friendly Spaces are always a top priority for UNFPA’s humanitarian response amid any disaster or conflict, but they are expensive. The Rohingya camps were erected in what used to be forest, and the buildings had to be constructed from scratch. The funds you provided, and the speed with which you provided them, meant that we could build these safe spaces – which Rohingya refugees call “shanti khana” or “homes of peace” --and give all women a place to talk to one of our caseworkers, talk with other women, or just have some quiet time on their own. Our 20th Women Friendly Space in Cox’s Bazar District is almost complete, and hundreds of women use the spaces every single day.
Of the 700,000 people who have arrived in Bangladesh since last August, almost 30,000 have been pregnant women. An entire generation has already been born in the world’s largest refugee camp. Your help meant we could hire and deploy almost 100 trained midwives to make sure both mothers and babies would not just survive, but thrive. To date, 3,800 babies have been born in UNFPA-supported clean, safe, private facilities. Our midwives are our frontline workers, but they are supported by doctors, obstetricians and gynaecologists who perform emergency caesareans and advise on complicated cases. We’ve brought in pharmacists as well, to manage the huge volume of medicines that are needed.
We’ve recruited 130 community health workers - many of them traditional midwives - to go into their communities, identify pregnant women and counsel them and their families on the benefits of giving birth with a qualified midwife. These volunteers are already respected leaders in their communities, and are responsible for saving so many lives by getting women to the clinics. Our volunteer programme, where volunteers receive an allowance for their work, will triple over the coming months. There are still thousands of women giving birth at home, which exposes them and their babies to extra risk - we want to reach all of them.