International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for funding to avert preventable deaths of mothers and girls fleeing war in Sudan

International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for funding to avert preventable deaths of mothers and girls fleeing war in Sudan

International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for funding to avert preventable deaths of mothers and girls fleeing war in Sudan

International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for funding to avert preventable deaths of mothers and girls fleeing war in Sudan

Over two months after the outbreak of war in Sudan, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns of preventable maternal deaths and illnesses if funding for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services continues to be culled. Among refugees from Sudan in Chad, women and girls represent nearly nine in ten individuals, with 25% of them of reproductive age and 5% are currently pregnant. 

Aleksandra Roulet-Cimpric, Country Director for the IRC in Chad, said,

“Slashing both public and private funding for sexual and reproductive health over the last two years has already had devastating consequences and the situation is set to deteriorate. Funding cuts could result in up to two million unintended pregnancies globally as a result of contraceptive supply shortages.

IRC staff at the border in Chad have been reporting an increase of women affected by sexual violence as they flee conflict in Darfur and other parts of Sudan. IRC is providing awareness-raising sessions on gender-based violence (GBV), has already distributed 450 dignity kits, treated fourteen cases of GBV including rapes, physical aggressions, forced marriages, denial of resources, and psychological violence. The IRC is setting up recreational activities to create a safe space where women can meet up and share their experiences, as well as making objects that they can sell. 

“Because of the IRC’s experience in sexual and reproductive health in Chad and our existing network and collaboration with local partners, we had a preparedness plan in place prior to the crisis and were able to mobilize initial funding for this response. That’s how we were already able to provide more than 1,900 perinatal consultations and  to help in 45 deliveries. But more funding is critical to provide assistance to this vulnerable population in order to save the lives of women and young girls.”

In emergency situations, the IRC provides a service package within 48 hours of the onset of an emergency, which can prevent death, disease, and disability related to unintended pregnancy, complications, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence, HIV infection, and a range of reproductive disorders. In Chad, the IRC’s emergency team on the ground has been coordinating this response together with UN agencies, local and international organizations to accommodate the SRH needs of Sudanese refugees.

Before the crisis in Sudan spilled over into Chad, the IRC had already trained Ministry of Health staff and local NGO staff in providing SRH assistance; in response to the arrival of refugees, we started the delivery and provision of reproductive health kits, 24/7 referral services and identified available site to service refugees, such as district hospitals, health centers. 

Together with partners, we have been providing information, access, and advice for contraceptive use. Additionally, safe delivery kits are provided to all women in their third trimester and sexually transmitted infections are managed upon signs of symptoms. 

The Humanitarian Response Plan for Chad – currently just 17% funded – should be immediately fulfilled to ensure that sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services are properly resourced at this critical moment for Sudanese women and girls seeking refuge in Chad.  Globally, progress in reducing deaths during pregnancy and childbirth and among newborn infants has stalled. An estimated 30% of maternal deaths could be prevented by meeting the need for contraception and all deaths related to unsafe abortion can be prevented by providing access to safe abortion care.  The 29 countries with humanitarian appeals in 2023 account for 64% of global maternal deaths, 50% of newborn deaths and 51% of stillbirths. The cycle of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion is both a cause and result of gender inequality and becomes more severe during crises, leading to excess morbidity and mortality.

The IRC has delivered vital humanitarian programming in Chad since 2004 in response to the refugee crisis from neighboring Darfur. Today the IRC works across the country to deliver integrated interventions in health, including reproductive health, nutrition and water and sanitation; women’s protection and empowerment, with a focus on fighting against gender-based violence; and economic recovery, with an emphasis on cash transfer and income-generating activities.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Rescue Committee.