‘It’s pure survival’: the dangers faced by women and girls in the aftermath of cyclone Idai – The Telegraph

Read All Newspapers in one Place - Download our App for free. DOWNLOAD


BUY OR SELL OLD AND NEW CARS, PARTS, CAR MATERIALS AS CAR MART NG LAUNCH IN NIGERIA

Aid agencies are warning that women and girls have been hardest hit by the cyclone that devastated southern Africa earlier this month, with sexual violence and unsafe labour a particular threat.  The United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) estimates that about 74,650 women in the three countries hit by cyclone Idai – Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe – are pregnant, with around 43,000 due to give birth in the next six months. The cyclone, which made landfall in Mozambique on March 14, has devastated huge swathes of land across southern Africa and has left more than 400,000 people homeless. The official death toll in the three countries is 750 but the eventual number is likely to be much higher – one eye witness told the Telegraph last week that he estimated he saw around 400 bodies as he escaped to safety. According to the Disasters Emergency Committee, which is co-ordinating the response of the main UK charities, there has been one report of a woman dying in labour in Mozambique because the district hospital is inaccessible from the local health centre. The committee warns that more more deaths are bound to follow. Women and girls are going through labour in desperate conditions with little food, poor sanitation, no health facilities or clean water and an increased risk of violence. Pansi Kutenga, country director of charity Christian Aid in Malawi, told the Telegraph of 17-year-old Ginesi Cosmas who gave birth in the Marita camp where there are no health facilities. “She had been told that she would have a complicated pregnancy but she had to walk 12 kilometres to escape the water before she gave birth. She must have been very tired and the stress she went through can cause high blood pressure. We know that can be fatal if not managed,” she said. It then took another four days before she had access to any proper health care. While mother and baby are both fine the camp has inadequate shelter, there are not enough bed nets for the prevention of malaria and water and sanitation are poor. “These people have escaped with nothing. This is an agricultural community and they have no tools and no way of making a living. At the moment we’re looking at life-saving interventions but long-term recovery will be difficult,” said Ms Kutenga. Mwangitama Chavula, maternal child health and nutrition coordinator for Care International in Nsanje, southern Malawi, said women and girls in the camps were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence. There are not enough tents to go round so families are forced to sleep in the open and those that do have access to shelter may have to share with other families. There is no electricity so walking to the toilet at night is dangerous, she said. She added that 1900 people had to share six toilets.  She said that aid agencies were bracing themselves for reports of sexual violence. “We have had no reports of it yet but the chances of it happening are high. Women in these situations are starving, their children have no food, they have no clothes. They have nothing. When they find a man who has finances they may be tempted to offer themselves for sex and men can take advantage of them,” she said. Care International has set a civil protection committee in the camp to raise awareness of this among women and to report any cases of sexual violence or harassment. However, police are thin on the ground, she said. Andrea Wojnar, UNFPA representative in Mozambique, said increased violence against women was a common problem in disaster situations.  “When women and girls are taken out of their normal environment they lose their protection mechanisms. They lose their community, lose their family setting and they find themselves extremely vulnerable. Women and girls find themselves sleeping in the same room as men. There are no toilet facilities, no light and they have to go out in the dark. They’re easy targets,” she said.  She said there had been reports of men breaking into camps and assaulting women. She agreed that women were more likely to sell themselves for food and security. “It’s pure survival,” she added. She said that family planning would also be disrupted.  “We know we will get unintended pregnancies and then women will risk unsafe abortions,” added Ms Wojnar.  Donations to relief fund can be made at www.dec.org.uk Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security 
SOURCE

Read All Newspapers in one Place - Download our App for free. DOWNLOAD