By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNPFA) is assisting mothers and pregnant women in conflict-affected communities of the fledgling Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), according to its information bureau.
The UNPFA has coordinated with BARMM’s ministries of health and social services to initially distribute this weekend 957 dignity kits to lactating mothers and pregnant women displaced in four Maguindanao towns, a statement from the Bureau of Public Information (BPI) said Friday.
The four Maguindanao towns – Datu Saudi, Datu Salibo, Datu Unsay and Datu Piang – underwent military strides against violent extremism espoused by the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in recent weeks, it was learned.
The BPI, citing official data from the BAMM’s Ministry of Social Welfare and Development (MSWD), indicated that evacuees from the four towns were among “more than 45,000 individuals… displaced due to conflicts” in the region.
It said the UNPFA has claimed that among the internally displaced persons (IDPs),” there could be more than 1,400 pregnant and around 500 are expected to deliver in the next three months.”
“Moreover, at least 900 (displaced) women have given birth in the last six months,” the BPI quoted the UN agency’s claim as adding.
BPI said the UN agency, in partnership with the MSWD and Ministry of Health, would want “to secure the safety and promote the well-being of the displaced women.”
It said the UNPFA-packed dignity kits include basic hygiene and protection items such as sanitary pads, underwear, soap, shampoo, food, water, flashlights, and whistles.
In the BPI statement, UNFPA’s country representative Iori Kato said the dignity kits form part of their humanitarian assistance in crisis requiring specific hygiene needs of women and girls of reproductive age.
“In times of crisis, it is more important to protect the dignity, safety, and reproductive health of pregnant and lactating women,” Kato said, noting that women do not stop getting pregnant or delivering babies in emergency period.
BARMM’s MSWD Minister Raissa Jajurie and Health Minister Saffrullah Dipatuan were closely supervising the kits distribution, BPI said.