UNFPA calls for urgent support for women, girls in northeast Nigeria

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/20 0:37:06

Violence by the extremist group Boko Haram continues to cause immense suffering in northeast Nigeria, where 2 million people are displaced and 7 million urgently need humanitarian assistance, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said here Monday.

"Women and girls in northeast Nigeria face a severe crisis as they struggle to cope with acute malnutrition, sexual violence and exploitation, severe trauma, high rates of maternal death and other risks to their health and well-being," said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin. "Meeting their urgent needs demands a strengthened response."

Of the 7 million affected people in north-east Nigeria, about 1,750,000 are women and girls of childbearing age who need sexual and reproductive health services, the UN agency said in a press release.

These services include prenatal and postnatal care, emergency obstetric care for safe birth, prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, treatment for rape and provision of psychosocial counselling.

On Friday, UNFPA and humanitarian partners helped the Borno State government in northeast Nigeria receive from the army 566 rescued women and children who will need humanitarian support. UNFPA is already providing immediate humanitarian relief to this group.

Since the beginning of this year, the Nigerian military has helped rescue more than 800,000 persons, most of whom have been deprived of all forms of humanitarian aid for years and need urgent life-saving support.

Assessments supported by the United Nations indicate that a high proportion of women and girls in northeast Nigeria have suffered different forms of gender-based violence, including sexual violence. Meeting their medical, psychosocial and other needs is a major undertaking that needs intensified support.

UNFPA is working with partners to scale up its response, especially in Borno State, home of 70 percent of displaced persons. The goal is to expand services for sexual and reproductive health and for preventing and tackling gender-based violence, so as to reach 4.5 million affected people.

So far in 2015 and 2016, UNFPA has reached 3.2 million people with information and services for sexual and reproductive health, and against gender-based violence, in areas affected by Boko Haram. Some 336 health personnel have been trained in emergency reproductive health care, 108 trained in the clinical management of rape, 88,000 pregnant women given clean delivery kits with soap, a razor blade, string and plastic sheeting to ensure safe births, 652 rape survivors given treatment, and 108,000 traumatized persons given psychosocial support and other services.

For 2016, UNFPA has received 40 percent of the 11 million US dollars it needs for northeast Nigeria, and is appealing to the donor community to increase support to meet the urgent needs of affected people, especially women and girls.

Nigeria's northeast region has been a stronghold of Boko Haram and has been frequently raided in the past six years. Over past months, the Nigerian government has launched several military operations to eliminate the terrorist threat.

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