Urgent maternal and reproductive health care for women and girls fleeing electoral crisis in The Gambia

Date: 20/01/2017

UNFPA and partners in collaboration with state authorities on standby to provide lifesaving support.

DAKAR, 20 January 2017 – The current political standoff in The Gambia following the December 1st, 2016 elections has lead over 45,000 people, mostly women and children, to enter Senegal from The Gambia in the past two days across borders in the northern and southern regions. It is estimated that 200,000 people may be internally displaced in The Gambia.

“In such situations, the reproductive needs and rights of women and girls, including pregnant women are often overlooked and so their dignity and health ignored” said Mabingue Ngom, UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “In view of this UNFPA is ensuring that its teams in both Senegal and The Gambia are on full alert and equipped to respond to the reproductive needs and rights of women and girls including pregnant women.”

UNFPA will provide basic dignity and hygiene kits to assist women and girls who have left their homes.

In the area of prenatal care, UNFPA and partners will provide birth delivery kits to help prevent infections among women who cannot reach a medical facility during delivery; equipment and medicines for clinical deliveries; supplies for emergency obstetric care; and support to address post-partum complications that can arise for both mothers and newborns.

UNFPA’s support for this crisis will be for an initial period of three months to ensure that pregnant women and girls benefit from safe deliveries, and have access to reproductive health care and supplies and that issues of gender-based violence in humanitarian settings are addressed and prevented in both The Gambia and Senegal.

The absence of voluntary family planning in emergencies means higher risks of unintended pregnancies, greater health risks for pregnant women, and possible health consequences for those who resort to unsafe abortions. Ensuring access to safe, effective contraception protects the lives and well-being of women and enables crisis-affected couples to manage scarce family resources more effectively. UNFPA will provide male and female condoms to avert unintended pregnancies in The Gambia and Senegal.

If the situation worsens and local health systems cannot meet demand, UNFPA will mobilize surge support to to support health service delivery for women and girls of reproductive age.

“Victim counselling, post-rape treatment, legal support, and support through our sexual and reproductive health programmes in both The Gambia and Senegal will be offered to respond to gender-based violence that is often exacerbated during times of crisis” says, Mabingue Ngom. “Sensitization of vulnerable adolescents and youth will also be conducted,” he concludes.

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

UNFPA expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives.

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Lamin Camara –

Boureima Diadie -