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âOver 18,000 Marawi evacuees pregnant or have given birthâ

“The crisis has increased risks for women and girls. Those living in crowded evacuation centers, for instance, often lack privacy and protection from gender-based violence,” the UNFPA noted. File

‘Over 18,000 Marawi evacuees pregnant or have given birth’

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  Over 18,000 women affected by the prolonged armed conflict in Marawi City and are staying at evacuation centers are believed to be pregnant or to have just given birth, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said.

“The crisis has increased risks for women and girls. Those living in crowded evacuation centers, for instance, often lack privacy and protection from gender-based violence,” the UNFPA noted.

Citing the Philippine government’s disaster response center data, UNFPA said the armed conflict led to the displacement of about 385,000 people from Marawi as of June 28 and approximately 11,500 are pregnant women and over 7,000 have given birth in the last six months.

UNFPA said the affected pregnant women and those who have just given birth apparently did not get the required prenatal and post-partum health care, as well proper hygiene and nutrition. UNFPA cited the case of 19-year-old Tarhata Mostare. who gave birth to her third child at home on the same day fighting erupted between government forces and the Maute group.

Three days after giving birth, UNFPA said, Mostare fled with her family, making the harrowing journey to an evacuation center in neighboring Iligan City by foot.

“Worryingly, interviews in evacuation centers have revealed that most pregnant women did not receive prenatal care before being displaced and a significant number of pregnancies are among teenagers. Together, these factors reflect high levels of vulnerability among the crisis-affected population,” the UNFPA further noted.

UNFPA is trying to help by distributing hygiene supplies and health materials and is preparing to establish women-friendly safe spaces, which offer protection and care to women at risk of gender-based violence.

With support from Australia, UNFPA is distributing 5,000 dignity kits for pregnant women and new mothers. These kits contain hygiene materials such as sanitary napkins, underwear, soap and shampoo, as well as items to help women feel safe traveling in the dark, such as flashlights and whistles.

UNFPA also distributed 1,200 clean delivery kits to midwives and health workers. These kits contain sterile supplies to facilitate safe childbirth, such as razors, plastic sheeting and other essential items.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) cautioned the public against giving cash donations to people who are claiming to be representing the agency and soliciting help for the people of Marawi.

“These people are unauthorized and they should not be entertained,” DOH said in an advisory.

DOH said it has been receiving reports that certain people are soliciting donations for victims of the Marawi siege. 

Those who have inquiries concerning health assistance to Marawi siege victims may contact the DOH hotlines 711-1001 or 711-1002, the DOH said.

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