Emergencies affect women and men differently.
So can our humanitarian response.
Our teams have been present in Athens since September 2015. Following our work based at the port of Pireaus and other camps, AMURTEL opened a Mother-Baby Area in the hub of downtown Athens in September 2016. This move has enabled us to reach the greatest number of people since more than 10,000 refugees currently live in urban settings and public transportation allows access to downtown for those in the surrounding Athens camps.
Our projects, outlined below, will continue to adapt to respond to the needs of women and children as the situation develops.
Reproductive health care in emergencies is not a luxury but a necessity that saves lives and reduces illness. [ref] The Johns Hopkins and Red Cross Red Crescent, Public health guide in emergencies [/ref]
One in five refugee women of childbearing age (15-45) is likely to be pregnant.[ref] United Nations Population Fund [/ref] Pregnant women and newborns are disproportionately harmed by disasters, with more miscarriages, premature births, low birth weight infants, undesired pregnancies and birth complications than an average population.
Fragmented or little access to health care, unfamiliar surroundings, and the often unending psychological stress put pregnant women and infants at great risk.
Breastfeeding is a major factor in infant protection and nutrition, enabling health and stability in an infant during a crisis. However, due to the indiscriminate distribution of breastmilk substitutes combined with many widely disseminated misconceptions about breastmilk, many mothers believe that formula feeding is best. These mothers unwittingly put their children at high risk and often need support to maintain or increase breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization states that infants should be exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of life with breastfeeding and complementary foods both given until two years of age or beyond. During a crisis, this is even more lifesaving than at other times.
“Breastfeeding practices need to be protected during emergencies; infants who are not breastfed are at a manifold higher risk of morbidity and mortality than breastfed children.” [ref] World Health Organization, Responding to Nutrition Gaps in Jordan in the Syrian Refugee Crisis [/ref]
Isolation and alienation can be devastating to the refugee/migrant population. Women come to AMURTEL not only for physical care but also for creating friendships and community. Support groups, besides being educational, offer this level of connection and aid a mother’s resilience
AMURTEL’s support groups focus on areas of critical importance such as:
Women in camps and community centers who cannot come to AMURTEL benefit from all our services through the outreach program. We are currently offering educational support groups and/or midwifery care in three camps and seven community venues.
Read a selection of articles that are talking about our projects here!