Pemba — "I came with nothing. Nothing at all," said Amina Daúde, 25, who travelled by boat to Pemba with her husband and three children to flee the escalating violence in northern Mozambique.
During two weeks in October last year, more than 10,000 people, of whom more than half were women and children, fled to Pemba in about 200 boats to escape the violence in the northern districts. Women reportedly gave birth in boats during these perilous sea journeys, which can take up to two days.
They landed on Paquetequete beach amid a small fishing community of 22,000 people in the city of Pemba, which has nearly tripled in size, putting a strain on available social and health services.
Upon arrival at Paquetequete beach, Ms. Daúde received a dignity kit from UNFPA. "Life is the most valuable thing I have at this moment. The dignity kit that I received from UNFPA greatly complements it," she said.
Ensuring feminine hygiene and dignity
Like Ms. Daúde, many other women and girls fled their homes at short notice, leaving everything behind. They struggle to take adequate care of their personal health and feminine hygiene as a result.
UNFPA is providing on-the-ground support through the Provincial and District Government by distributing female dignity kits and providing psychosocial counselling and support to displaced women and girls. The kits contain feminine hygiene items such as soap, reusable menstrual pads, capulanas (traditional cloths) and underwear.
"Now, my dignity is recovered as I'll be able to have my menstrual hygiene relaxed. I'll be able to wear the capulanas and cover myself, as well as wear the masks for prevention and control of COVID-19," Ms. Daúde said.
Dignity kits also contain items to help women and girls mitigate their risk of gender-based violence, including a flashlight and whistle, and information on where and how to access services. As part of the distribution, UNFPA worked with the government and social activists to educate women and girls about COVID-19 and how to avoid transmission and infection, while also distributing reusable face masks.
The high price women and girls pay in crises
During conflicts, natural disasters, and public health emergencies, sexual and reproductive health needs are often overlooked - and with staggering consequences. Women and girls pay a high price in a crisis, facing increased risks of gender-based violence, unintended pregnancies, and preventable maternal death due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.
To date, an estimated 530,000 people have been displaced from Cabo Delgado.
Through funding from the governments of Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and UN OCHA, UNFPA through the Government of Mozambique has provided more than 20,000 women and girls with health and GBV services through mobile clinics, trained service providers on GBV in the context of COVID-19, distributed thousands of dignity kits, and supported tens of thousands of women and girls through reproductive health supplies and equipment.
UNFPA Mozambique Fact Sheet for the Northern Province Humanitarian Crisis