Humanitarian response

“In a world of seven billion, every person should enjoy human rights and human dignity, and have the opportunity to make the most of his or her potential.”

“In a world of seven billion, every person should enjoy human rights and human dignity, and have the opportunity to make the most of his or her potential.”

When emergencies strike, life can change in an instant. Conflict and natural disasters can destroy homes and communities – or suddenly drive people from them. Forced to flee or find shelter, often with little more than the clothes on their backs, families and individuals find themselves without basic necessities – from obvious things like food and water to hygiene supplies, contraceptives and medical care.

In times of upheaval, pregnancy-related deaths and sexual violence soar. Reproductive health services - including prenatal care, assisted delivery, and emergency obstetric care - often become unavailable. Young people become more vulnerable to HIV infection and sexual exploitation. And many women lose access to family planning services, exposing them to unwanted pregnancy in perilous conditions.

UNFPA moves quickly when emergency strikes, to protect the reproductive health of communities in crisis. It also provides assistance to stricken communities as they move beyond the acute crisis and enter the reconstruction phase. The Fund also supports various data collection activities, including censuses to provide detailed information for planning and rapid health assessments to allow for appropriate, effective and efficient relief.

Syrian crisis

According to the United Nations, the conflict in Syria has caused the world’s worst humanitarian emergency since World War II, requiring the biggest relief operation in UN’s 64-year history. The complex civil war in Syria has recently intensified with the Islamic State (IS) launching a sudden and murderous offensive across the region, forcing an average of one out of eight Syrians to flee across the border to neighbouring countries and has placed nearly half of the Syrian population and another millions internally displaced Iraq is in need of urgent humanitarian help.

With the advance of IS fighters in the territories bordering Turkey, more than 160,000 Syrian Kurds have fled their homes seeking refuge in Turkey. The inflow of refugees continues to place an immense burden on neighbouring countries, increasing the pressure on the fragile systems of countries that are already suffering economically, socially as well as politically.

United Nations agencies, including UNFPA, are struggling to deal with the continuing influx and to meet refugees’ minimum needs due to the lack of sufficient funds and the restriction of movement due to insecurity. The humanitarian situation is getting worse: refugees are struggling to cope with the current situation, particularly with women who are living in distress and in poor living conditions and in fear of sexual assault and abuse. There are more than 12 million people inside Syria in need of assistance, including 432,000 pregnant women.

UNFPA is running outreach awareness activities about sexual and reproductive health, training of community health workers and coordination with national and international stakeholders. UNFPA continues to emphasize the specific needs of women and girls that must be factored into the humanitarian response in the region.

Egypt hosts 227,077 Syrian refugees, last updated on December 31, 2015. Activities in Egypt include outreach awareness regarding sexual and reproductive health and the training of community health workers.

Programme overview:

 

The UN has declared the Syria crisis the worst and largest humanitarian emergency in the 21st century. Since the beginning of the crisis, over 200,000 lives have been lost, over 7.6 million people have been displaced inside Syria and 4 million refugees have fled to neighboring countries.

 

UNFPA- Egypt’s humanitarian programme  has responded to several crises in the region in recent years, including the Libya crisis in Salloum and the Syrian refugee crisis through providing essential support to reproductive health and protection services. The programme currently aims to provide effective and rapid implementation of interventions to Syrian refugees and other vulnerable migrants. The main focus of the programme is the provision of comprehensive SRH services and the prevention and/or mitigation of SGBV risk and consequences among the Syrian refugee population.

 

UNFPA Egypt has been involved in the response to the Syria crisis since the second half of 2012. The programme has since then supported various initiatives including mainstreaming Syrians into public Primary Health Care in Alexandria, Damietta and Cairo. In addition, UNFPA has supported several safe spaces for youth and women, awareness campaigns, key training for healthcare providers, and supplied post-exposure prophylaxis kits to SGBV survivors.

Through a resilience-based approach, efforts have focused on enhancing government services to adapt to the influx of Syrian refugees, in addition to establishing community outreach interventions targeting the most vulnerable women and young people.

In so doing, UNFPA has sought to strengthen social cohesion between both locals and Syrians. This aims to integrate Syrian refugees within host communities and pre-empt tensions.

 UNFPA was able to support a range of services and awareness activities that have covered Cairo, Giza, 6th of October, Damietta and Alexandria. In 2017, UNFPA expanded services to Qalyubia and Sharkia governorates through integrating safe spaces in MOY youth centers to ensure the sustainability of safe spaces.

Egypt's situation:

 

Egypt is the only non-bordering country to host Syrian refugees in considerable numbers in the region.  As of December 2017, there are 126,688 Syrian asylum-seekers and refugees registered in Egypt, half of which are women, and out of those, more than half are in reproductive age. The Egyptian government has stated that at least the same number of Syrians is unregistered.

The protracted nature of the Syria crisis, along with diminishing financial support, has increased risk factors for refugees. As a result, UN agencies, including UNFPA and other organizations, are struggling to respond to the urgent needs of refugees in Egypt that include healthcare, protection and livelihood support.

UNFPA interventions:

 

Given the primary focus of UNFPA on issues of sexual and reproductive health, and gender based violence, the majority of projects require cross-cutting interventions and inter-sectoral collaboration.

With regards to health, UNFPA has succeeded in carrying out service mapping of Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities serving the Syrian population, in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Health, UNHCR, UNICEF and WHO. The Egyptian government has granted Syrians free access to primary health services, and through the mapping exercise, UNFPA and partners were able to address issues with the quality of SRH services through strengthening national structures in areas with a high concentration of Syrian refugees. This support comprised training of staff, and provision of essential equipment and commodities as needed., UNFPA Egypt has activated community outreach structures through training a cadre of community health workers, holding health awareness campaigns, providing youth friendly spaces, etc. through close coordination with MOH and other key partners.

At the core of the humanitarian programme’s GBV prevention and response strategy are safe spaces. In these safe spaces, women and girls come together, develop social networks, and acquire important information and skills.  UNFPA has supported several safe spaces for youth and women in Cairo and other governorates including Sharkia, Alexandria, Giza Qalyubia and Damietta. Safe spaces offer holistic survivor-centered multisectoral GBV services that include case management and referral for specialized services. Social empowerment activities are additionally offered to women with referral to more specialized agencies for further employability support to support the women’s livelihood as well as their local integration in Egypt,. In addition, creative techniques are employed to address the psychosocial wellbeing of women and girls and enable discussions around GBV. These techniques include community theatre, storytelling, music therapy, and art therapy.

UNFPA also provides substantial technical support and capacity building for service providers. UNFPA has supported the training of over 200 healthcare providers serving Syrian refugees on the GBV medical protocol and gender sensitive service provision. This goes hand in hand with UNFPA’s continued efforts to mainstream gender into all aspects of humanitarian programming in an effort to address gender and age specific needs. UNFPA is also the main provider of Post-Exposure- Prophylaxis kits to refugee medical care providers.  This is in conjunction with awareness campaigns and dissemination of behavior-change communication material for issues of SRH and GBV.

In addition, UNFPA supported the training of Syrian and Egyptian community health workers in Cairo. This effort was in collaboration with the Arab Medical Union as part of a larger plan to train Syrian refugee women to carry out health education through community outreach.

Particular focus is placed on strengthening social cohesion through integrating Egyptians into outreach activities. In terms of youth activities, UNFPA has provided trainings on SRH and community involvement that brought together Syrians and Egyptian youth of both gender through coordination with Y-PEER.

 

List of partners & supported organizations:

- Ministry of Health and Population

- Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

- Care International

- Syriana

- Refugee Egypt

- Medicines Sans Frontiers

- Caritas

- Youth for Development Association