Even after escaping the Taliban and fleeing to refugee camps in Pakistan, Afghan women are not free from danger, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative Dr. Olivier Brasseur. Brasseur spoke candidly with the BBC about the threat that many Afghan women face in the camps because of poor healthcare services, lack of funds, and general violence.
Brasseur reports that UNFPA is working with non-governmental organizations in Pakistan to deliver healthcare services to refugees, especially to women in need of obstetric and pre- and post-natal services, as well as education on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS. Women are more at risk for sexual violence, including rape, in refugee situations. Some NGOs report that women have been forced into prostitution, as it is the only way for some to generate income. UNFPA is trying to organize co-operatives for refugee women to alleviate poverty, but so far, Brasseur admits, there is little work. Aggravating the situation is the Taliban, which has, according to Brasseur, raided health clinics and intimidated women, some of whom are afraid to go out during the day.
The Afghan humanitarian crisis is the largest UNFPA relief operation in history. In addition to inadequate healthcare and rampant poverty, refugees lack food, clean water, and proper shelter. Seventy percent of all Afghan refugees are women and children. To find out how you can help, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.