May 31, 2023

In the catastrophe of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, nearly 16 million people were affected in the southern Turkish states and 9 million in Syria, including about 350,000 pregnant women in both countries, who need vital and immediate access to health services in facilities that no longer exist or have been severely damaged and put out of work after Violent tremors.

In Syria, the earthquakes only deepened the deep-rooted suffering of 12 years of war, which turned 90 percent of the Syrians into destitute and forced half of the population to leave their homes, most of them women and children. Several million of them took refuge in Turkey, and today, after the earthquake, tens of thousands now live in temporary shelters. at sub-zero temperatures.

The United Nations Population Fund “UNFPA” says in a report, released on Saturday, that women and girls are always the most affected in humanitarian crises, and the most exposed to sexual violence and exploitation.

In its report, the United Nations Fund published 5 reasons why women need support after the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey:

1. Humanitarian crises can mean life or death for pregnant women

After thousands of hospitals have collapsed or been damaged, including facilities supported by the United Nations Population Fund, pregnant women and new mothers are still struggling to access basic care, including emergency obstetric support and caesarean sections.

There are an estimated 133,000 pregnant women in the affected areas of Syria, about 44,000 of whom will give birth in the next three months, in the ruins of the region’s worst natural disaster in modern history, and those must rely on a health system that has been battered by more than a decade of bombing and chaos. Economic and almost complete shortage of supplies or personnel.

In Turkey, 22,500 out of 226,000 pregnant women directly affected by the earthquake will give birth within a month, in light of the damage to 70 percent of family health centers, while 60 percent of the services of maternal health centers and obstetrics are not working, endangering the lives of tens of thousands. of persons at risk.

2. Disruption of access to sexual and reproductive health services can lead to a secondary disaster

With more than 100 health facilities in Turkey and more than 170 in Syria destroyed or damaged, including at least seven hospitals, the health of some 2.2 million women and girls of childbearing age in Syria and 4.1 million in Turkey are all at risk, and they are all in need. to sexual and reproductive health care of their choice.

The disaster impeded women’s access to reproductive health care requirements, as the United Nations Population Fund stressed the importance of restarting reproductive health and protection services again, and ensuring access to reproductive health care for all women and girls in need, regardless of where they are, including in temporary shelters and within host communities in both Syria and Turkey.

3. Protection needs from gender-based violence rise after the earthquake

In crises, women and girls are also more vulnerable to violence and abuse, while social security and protection services are disrupted and health facilities collapse.

Yasmin, 26 years old, a Syrian mother of five children and a divorcee, has lived in Turkey for five years and has taken refuge in a safe place for women and girls affiliated with the United Nations Population Fund, which was built in a gym after the earthquakes.

Her husband was physically and emotionally abusive to her; “He threatened me, he wanted to take my children,” Yasmine says. UNFPA previously provided shelter in a safe place, and now with her house severely damaged, she said, “They have now moved me to this center because it is safer,” she testified in the report.

The report says that UNFPA safe spaces in post-earthquake Syria and Turkey ensure gender-based violence prevention and response services for tens of thousands of women and girls living in crowded or temporary camps or on the streets.

4. Displacement leads to severe physical, mental and social losses for women

Official reports say more than 100,000 families have been displaced by the earthquakes, although the real number is likely to be much higher, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

Many people stay with host communities or return to unsafe and uninhabitable homes, while many more live on the streets or in shelters, unable to rebuild their homes or livelihoods.

Syria already has the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world, at 6.8 million, with the same number of people seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

The report notes that people who were forced from their homes by war, disease outbreaks and financial ruin were subsequently met by droughts and floods that destroyed what was left of their livelihoods. With this latest disaster, millions more are facing the trauma of involuntary migration once again, nearly half of whom are women and girls. who struggle with homelessness, discrimination, poverty and increased risks of exploitation and abuse.

Rojen, a mother of four originally from Syria, is now sheltering in a safe place for women and girls in Diyarbakir, Turkey, in a safe area of ​​the United Nations Population Fund. Originally from Syria, she and her family live with 15 others in one room in an animal feed factory.

“We stayed outside in a park for four days,” Rogen, 36, told the UN Population Fund. “We couldn’t take anything. I just took this dress and put it on.. Nothing for the kids. It’s very difficult.”

5- The urgent need to provide solidarity and financial support

In its report, the United Nations Population Fund states that it has been working on the ground since the first day of the earthquake, in coordination with partners, to re-establish protection and sexual and reproductive health services in Syria and Turkey, but it needs funding for more clinics, mobile health teams, and safe places.

Millions of women and girls still do not receive much-needed support; In Turkey, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is appealing for $19.7 million to scale up delivery of reproductive health and protection services. So far, 39 percent of the appeal has been funded.

In Syria, the United Nations Population Fund is appealing for $24.8 million, of which it received only a third, stressing that the earthquake disaster has exacerbated the pre-existing crisis in Syria, for which the United Nations Population Fund is also calling for $141.2 million.

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