In the News

10 December 2013

Effort to Help Filipino Women Falters, UN Says

WASHINGTON (New York Times) — A new effort to protect women from rape and help them deliver babies in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines remains troubled and inadequate, the United Nations and international aid groups said this week.

The effort, loosely coordinated among more than a dozen developed countries, aid groups and the United Nations, is aimed at assisting 65,000 women deemed at risk of sexual assault and an estimated 1,000 women giving birth a day in regions ravaged by the typhoon in November.

“We’re on a big learning curve,” said Justine Greening, Britain’s international development secretary. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that going forward we put the real focus on women and girls and keeping them safe in a way that hasn’t happened in the past enough.”

Ms. Greening was the convener of a conference in London last month — by coincidence held just days after the typhoon churned over the Philippines — when 13 governments, including the United States, agreed to assume that women and girls are in greater danger of violence after natural disasters than men and boys, and that organizations should act quickly to prevent and treat it rather than waiting for confirmation that it has occurred.

But the money for the effort in the Philippines is flowing slowly. The United Nations Population Fund has asked its donor nations and agencies to contribute $30 million to give Filipino women hundreds of thousands of kits with hygiene supplies, hire staff at 80 temporary maternal wards and counsel victims of rape. So far, it has commitments for only about $3 million.

“I was a bit disappointed about the lukewarm response from donors,” said Ugochi Daniels, a top humanitarian aid coordinator for the United Nations.

Still, Ms. Daniels said the $3 million commitment — from Britain, Australia and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund — marked a record. “I don’t think we’ve ever gotten more than $300,000,” she said.

Read the full story by Sarah Wheaton in the New York Times.