United Nations, July 26 IANS | 4 months ago

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Friday expressed its deep concern about the impact of the ongoing Gaza conflict on women's health and access to safe births.

"Reports of the destruction of hospitals and health facilities are particularly disturbing as some 45,000 pregnant women in Gaza are currently in need of maternity care," Xinhua quoted the UNFPA as saying in a press release.

Due to mounting stress and anxiety, many of these women are likely to face obstetric complications, while access to maternal health services is increasingly limited by the conflict, noted the Fund.

"It is critical that humanitarian assistance, including medical supplies and equipment, be given safe passage into Gaza to enable us to provide the much-needed assistance to pregnant women," said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.

Several emergency maternity centres, established with UNFPA support in previous years, have been affected and are no longer operational, leaving many women without access to safe delivery services, the UNFPA said.

Over 140,000 people have been displaced by the hostilities, according to the latest figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The UNFPA estimates that among those displaced, there are 25,000 women of reproductive age and 5,000 pregnant women.

With the possibility of a further escalation in violence, the UNFPA joined the UN Security Council in calling on all sides to urgently exercise maximum restraint and ensure the protection of civilians, particularly women and children.

(Posted on 26-07-2014)

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