UNICEF work together for flood-affected communities
Islamabad : UNHCR, the UN Agency Refugee Agency signed two agreements with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, to improve the protection environment for refugee and host communities affected by the devastating floods, especially children and women.
The partnership comes at a time when swathes of Pakistan remain under water, including entire villages and farmlands. Thousands have been displaced, while others have returned to find their homes destroyed and key water, sanitation, and health infrastructure non-existent. In Sindh province, some affected communities can only be reached by boat, their continued isolation compounding their needs, forcing families to make impossible choices. Both child marriage and violence against children have increased in some of the most affected districts.
As the climate crisis is ratcheting up, extreme weather is wearing down the resilience of communities in Pakistan hit by repeated disasters, including in terms of protection. Findings from assessments indicate that in the most affected province, Sindh, 85 percent of key informants indicated that their community members do not have knowledge of gender-based violence services, more than 50 percent are experiencing psycho-social distress and 60 percent are not accessing treatment.
“The scale of destruction after the floods is huge, and protection needs among children and women are still growing.” according to UNHCR Representative to Pakistan, Noriko Yoshida. “Together our partnership with UNFPA and UNICEF will strengthen the collective response, as part of UN-wide efforts”
Planned joint activities with UNICEF include the distribution of 250,000 dignity kits for women and girls of reproductive age, child protection activities and mental health awareness raising campaigns and community-based activities, bolstering the capacity of District Child Protection Units with caseworkers and psychologists, in addition to mapping available services in affected communities with a particular focus on survivors of violence for case referrals and adequate response.
UNFPA activities include the distribution of 20,000 dignity kits, establishing and strengthening Gender-Based Violence (GBV) referral mechanisms of cases, setting up and operating women and girls’ friendly spaces to reduce risks and prevent further harm during after the emergency, community mobilization and outreach campaigns for GBV awareness and sensitization among community members, mapping of available services for survivors, enhancing skills of front-line GBV staff assisting communities, as well as lifesaving GBV response services such as health, psycho-social support, case management and referrals for GBV survivors.
“After the devastating floods, women and girls continue to be at risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse. They must be able to access services critical to their health and survival. UNFPA’s priority is to ensure women and girls have access to lifesaving reproductive health and protection services even in the midst of an emergency, said Dr. Luay Shabaneh.
The agreement is expected to continue in 2023 and is aimed to facilitate the transfer of resources from one UN entity to another UN entity to reach the most affected communities under the “One-UN”.