Women-Friendly Spaces for Rohingya refugees: A place for protection and care

UNFPA Bangladesh/Allison Joyce
Young girls at a Women-Friendly Space at a Rohingya refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Spaces offer women and girls a safe haven where they can find sanctuary and support.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Simple shelters that are little more than huts with bamboo sticks and plastic sheeting for walls, and tarpaulins overhead, are serving a very important purpose for refugee women and girls forced to flee their homes to the vast refugee camps of Bangladesh.

They are offering persecuted Rohingya who fled the brutal violence in Myanmar a safe haven where they can find sanctuary and support, care of UN workers and partner agencies.

Some 19 Women-Friendly Spaces (WFS), also known as women’s centres or women’s safe spaces, set up by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) cater to hundreds-of-thousands of women and girls, providing healthcare and counselling, as well as professional case management for survivors of violence.

However, with the start of the monsoon season, torrential rains and risk of flash floods and landslides, are jeopardizing this vital element of humanitarian response and protection. In June, some 10 such Spaces were damaged by rains and landslides.

“The heavy rains and their impact are already compounding the suffering of these refugees, even as they try to rebuild their lives,” Natalia Kanem, the Executive Director of UNFPA, said on Monday when she was in Cox’s Bazar, as part of Secretary-General António Guterres’ delegation.

Many of the women and girls in need of most care, are survivors of brutal crimes of sexual violence, carried out allegedly by Myanmar government forces, who began torching the villages of Rohingya in Rakhine state last August, forcing them to flee across the border.

UNFPA has already stepped up efforts and is working with partners, including other agencies, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – together with refugees themselves and host communities – to repair and reinforce these spaces as well and the health centres operated by the agency.

It is also identifying at-risk groups to they can be transferred to safety, forming community watch groups from among refugee and host community women, to locate those who are pregnant – often as a result of rape. Vulnerable women and girls, are taken to more secure settlements or places with facilities designed to help them cope with trauma and loss.

Midwives and case workers, supported by UNFPA are also traveling along waterlogged roads to reach those in need. However, it is feared that full brunt of the monsoon season will discourage women from seeking vital maternal health care and other services.

During the recent first heavy rains, UNFPA health facilities and women-friendly spaces saw their use decline by around 60 per cent.

As a precaution, the UN agency has been distributing sterile delivery kits – which include a plastic sheet, razor blade, gloves and towels – to pregnant women to minimize infection risks during childbirth, in case they are unable to reach a health facility when it is time to deliver. More than 12,000 such kits have been distributed in the past nine months.

UN Secretary-General Guterres, who visited the refugee settlement and the UNFPA facilities on Monday, reiterated the need to protect those in most need.

“The safety of the Rohingya refugees during this monsoon season is priority one,” he said, standing amid a monsoon downpour.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Declaring commitment to ‘peace and stability’ for Libya, top UN envoy steps down as stress takes its toll

World Health Organisation and medical students: is there any room for improvement?

Euro-Mediterranean Assembly fixes its permanent seat in Rome

Subsidiarity and Proportionality: Task Force presents recommendations on a new way of working to President Juncker

Facts, not fear, will stop COVID-19 – so how should we talk about it?

GSMA Announces Latest Event Updates for 2018 “Mobile World Congress Americas, in Partnership with CTIA”

How Africa’s entrepreneurs are changing the direction of globalization

Rohingya cannot become ‘forgotten victims,’ says UN chief urging world to step up support

How we can survive the great COVID lockdown: IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: new actions of almost €150 million to tackle human smuggling, protect vulnerable people and stabilise communities in North Africa

The AI doctor won’t see you now

One migrant child reported dead or missing every day, UN calls for more protection

Why medicine is relevant to the battle against climate change

UN chief praises Malaysia’s death penalty repeal as ‘major step forward’

EU leaders prepare timetable and structure for EU budget negotiations

Guterres condemns killing of Bangladeshi peacekeeper in South Sudan, during armed attack on UN convoy

How secure is blockchain?

Track the spread of coronavirus around the world

Things are bad and getting worse for South Africa. Or are they?

Forward Agenda: What can we expect from 2019?

We need a reskilling revolution. Here’s how to make it happen

Syria: UN-backed watchdog says chemical weapon ‘likely used’ in February attack

4 lessons on human cooperation from the fight against Ebola

Natural gas: Parliament extends EU rules to pipelines from non-EU countries

Deutsche Bank: the next financial crisis is here and the lenders need €150 billion from taxpayers

Low productivity jobs continue to drive employment growth

European Citizens’ Initiative: A game of much publicity and one big lie

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

First-ever UN report on disability and development, illustrates inclusion gaps

What does artificial intelligence do in medicine?

Practicing healthcare through a global lens

It ain’t over until Google says it’s over

EU citizens want more competences for the EU to deal with crises like COVID-19

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of DSME by HHIH

Revealed: danger and squalor for cleaners who remove human waste by hand

Scores killed in ‘barbaric’ attack on Mali village, UN chief urges restraint, calls for ‘dialogue’ to resolve tensions

We know ethics should inform AI. But which ethics?

Green light for VAT overhaul to simplify system and cut fraud

Joint UN, OSCE engagement can address crisis in Ukraine, other ‘dark spots of conflict’ in Europe

Governments, businesses ‘walk the talk’ for investment in sustainable development: UN forum

Syria: Civilians caught in crossfire, UN refugee chief urges Jordan to open its border

Commission launches new edition of the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor 2019

UN, African Union make significant joint commitment to global health

Will the French let Macron destroy their party political system?

‘Complacency is still strong’ over stopping genocide, says top UN adviser

Climate Change: a challenge yet to be tackled in medical schools

UPDATED: Guterres condemns armed attack against UN peacekeepers in Mali

MEPs debate EEAS report on disinformation activities related to COVID-19

These are the 4 most likely scenarios for the future of energy

Investment Plan for Europe: European Investment Bank to provide BioNTech with up to €100 million in debt financing for COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing

Serious concerns over Sahel, require ‘urgent action’: Senior UN Africa official

This project is turning abandoned fishing gear into volleyball nets

Eurozone retail sales fall shows recession

Citing public anger and youth activism, OECD Secretary-General urges governments to heed calls for climate action

How to provide health education and thus create better health systems

France asks help from Germany but it will not be for free

Sustainable Development Goals: making the world a better place

Partnerships with civil society and youth ‘essential’ for a future that leaves no one behind: General Assembly President

UN team aids Samoa response to deadly measles epidemic

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s