Amid Viet Nam’s devastating floods, UNFPA offers additional support for women and girls affected by the crisis

  • The UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency provides USD1,340,000 to respond to the special health needs and gender-based violence for women and girls

HA NOI, 7 December 2020 –The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam has made additional USD800,000 available from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to secure immediate support for women and girls in eight provinces and Da Nang city, which have been severely affected by devastating floods and landslides, bringing the total amount of UNFPA’s support to USD1,340,000 to date.

On 24 November 2020, 5,704 dignity kits were handed over to the Central Committee of Viet Nam Farmers’ Union for distribution to women who experience or are at risk of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Viet Nam’s floods-affected three provinces, namely Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Quang Nam provinces. On 29 November 2020, Mr. Thao Xuan Sung, Chairman of the Central Committee of Viet Nam Farmers’ Union and Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam handed over these dignity kits to female farmers in Quang Nam province.

The country’s central coastal region has suffered unprecedented flooding from prolonged downpours and successive typhoons since early October, resulting in more than 200 deaths recorded so far, and displacing thousands of people. At least 5.5 million people in the region have been affected, including over 1,300,000 women of reproductive age and more than 92,000 pregnant women.

Pregnancy and menstruation do not stop in emergencies, and as such uninterrupted services for sexual and reproductive health must be provided to women and girls. And risks of violence against women and girls increase in crisis, for which effective prevention and response must be immediately put in place for women exposed to, or at risk of being exposed to violence and abuse.

According to the joint rapid assessment carried out in October, in which UNFPA experts played a lead role in the most affected areas of central Viet Nam, health facilities have been hit hard by floods and landslides, and routine public health programmes such as antenatal, child birth, post-natal care and family planning services have been disrupted. Women and girls continue to be unable to access basic health care services, including sexual and reproductive health.

The disaster has forced women and girls to displacement in evacuation centres without having the time to pack essential supplies. As a result, they are unable to manage their hygiene properly and lack access to basic needs such as sanitary pads, clothes and underwear that are needed to manage their menstrual periods. In addition, access to water and places to wash and dry reusable pads and clothes, or to dispose of used materials, is currently challenged.

The UNFPA funding and support includes mobile and outreach health care clinics, the distribution of Dignity Kits with essential hygiene items, provision of vital maternal health equipment and supplies such as the Doppler Fetal Heart Rate Detector. In addition, UNFPA is introducing communication materials to affected locations on how to manage pregnancy and child birth, how to respond to gender-based violence, and where to seek help particularly when faced with domestic violence.

A pre-existing crisis of violence against women and girls has been exacerbated in the context of COVID-19. Recent reports have shown that shelter hotlines have received twice as many calls for help over the past months compared to the same time periods in previous years. The risk of violence against women (physical, sexual, psychological and economic) increases substantially during humanitarian crises.

When emergencies like this strike, life changes in a moment. This natural disaster has already destroyed thousands of homes and forced people to flee. Women and girls are among the most vulnerable. Women do not need to die giving birth, and this must hold true even in emergencies,” said Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam.

While fleeing, people are in need of basic necessities – ranging from food and water to hygienic supplies and medical care. UNFPA is striving to assist the Government of Viet Nam in restoring and improving the lives of the flood victims, particularly the most vulnerable,” she added. “UNFPA expresses sympathy for victims and their families affected by the latest tragedy, especially women and girls. This contribution underlines our solidarity with the people of Viet Nam. Many have suffered from the loss of homes, livelihoods and belongings in the wake of the devastating floods.”

UNFPA is present in over 150 countries, including Viet Nam, and works closely with national and local governments, United Nations agencies, community organizations, and many others to support the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls during emergency response. UNFPA delivers hygiene supplies, maternal health services, and deploys trained personnel.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Thanh | UNFPA Viet Nam Communications

Email:  tnguyen@unfpa.org | Tel: 84-0913093363

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