By Noel Punzalan, PNA
COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), in coordination with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), is set to initially distribute 957 hygiene kits on Saturday to lactating mothers and pregnant women displaced by recent atrocities in Maguindanao.
On Friday, the UNPF, formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), turned over the hygiene kits to the BARMM’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Services in simple ceremonies held inside the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the BARMM regional seat in this city.
“The hygiene kits would be handed over to the displaced women today (April 13) to four conflict-affected towns of the province,” said lawyer Raissa Jajurie, minister of social services.
Jajurie identified the towns as Datu Saudi, Datu Salibo, Datu Unsay, and Datu Piang.
Iori Kato, UNFPA’s country representative, said the dignity kits are an integral part of UNFPA’s assistance to any humanitarian crisis as they are meant to meet the specific hygiene needs of women and girls of reproductive age. Each kit contains basic hygiene and protection items, such as sanitary pads, underwear, soap, shampoo, food, water, flashlights, and whistles.
Latest data from the region’s social services ministry indicated that more than 45,000 individuals have been displaced due to conflicts across the BARMM. The UNFPA, in an estimate, said 1,400 pregnant women are among the conflict-affected populace.
The UN agency’s records showed that 500 of the pregnant women in the conflict zones are set to deliver in the next three months. Moreover, the same records disclosed that at least 900 women have given birth in the past six months.
“In times of crisis, it is more important to protect the dignity, safety, and reproductive health of pregnant and lactating women,” Kato said.
Personnel of the BARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART) will spearhead the distribution of the hygiene kits to the strife-affected communities.
“Expect BARMM-HEART to also distribute the same hygiene kits to other parts of the region in the days to come,” Myrna Jocelyn Henry, BARMM-HEART spokesperson, said, adding that the Maguindanao distribution is just the first leg of the sanitation supplies’ dispensation.
The BARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi; the cities of Cotabato, Marawi, and Lamitan; and 63 villages in North Cotabato province. (PNA)