UN Population Fund seeks funds to aid Palestinian women

UN Population Fund seeks funds to aid Palestinian women

Responding to the current humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today appealed to donors for $3.6 million to fund an eight-month assistance plan aimed at providing reproductive health services to vulnerable Palestinian women and girls.

Responding to the current humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today appealed to donors for $3.6 million to fund an eight-month assistance plan aimed at providing reproductive health services to vulnerable Palestinian women and girls.

Violence in the region has prevented medical personnel from reporting to health facilities and blocked ambulances from reaching those in urgent need of care, according to UNFPA. The agency noted that women in labour had been delayed at checkpoints, resulting in unattended roadside births and even the death of some mothers and infants.

Even before the recent escalation, one fifth of pregnant women in Gaza and the West Bank could not receive prenatal care because of the difficulty of travelling through checkpoints to health facilities, UNFPA said, pointing out that the situation has since been exacerbated by the Israeli army's reoccupation of major cities.

The agency's new effort will focus on helping women in labour who may be unable to reach a hospital because of military activity, curfews and travel restrictions. Other aspects of the UNFPA plan include helping rebuild the Palestinian Authority's capacity to collect economic and demographic data, funding activities aimed at preventing gender-based violence, and assisting centres providing trauma counselling for women and their families.

Since September 2001, UNFPA has been providing emergency assistance to the area, including medical supplies and reproductive health commodities. The new push for funding envisages providing hospital equipment such as delivery beds, critical care ventilators and ultrasound machines.