A Malian refugee in the Sahel region is pleased to receive a 'dignity kit' from UNFPA. Photo: UNFPA Burkina Faso / Zénabou Simpore.
UNFPA has handed over 2000 ‘dignity kits’ to UNHCR for the Malian refugees who have settled in the Sahel Region of Burkina Faso. The handover ceremony of the kits on 26 July was presided by the High Commissioner of Soum Province and attended by men and women from refugee sites in Mentao North, South and Centre. The kits contain buckets, sanitary towels, sandals, wrappers, soap and panties.
Songs of excitement
When the truck transporting the dignity kits stopped in the refugee camp of Mentao North that Thursday morning it was surrounded by a crowd of children, who applauded and cheered as the contents were offloaded. One of them began singing a song and was soon joined by the others, who sang and clapped their hands. Attracted by the joyful shouting, a crowd of adults formed, curious about what the truck contained.
The handover ceremony began with the arrival of the political and administrative authorities of the Province. A welcome address was given by the High Commissioner, after which UNHCR staff expressed their appreciation for this timely support.
UNFPA Assistant Representative Saidou Kabore explained the reasons for the donation and then handed the kits over to the UNHCR staff. With a total value of $30,000, the kits were for refugees living the Sahel Region. When the content of the kits was explained, their faces lit up and cheers of appreciation came from the crowd.
Discussing reproductive health with refugee women
Mr. Kabore held discussions with the women present on the issue of reproductive health. This initiative was highly appreciated by the women as such activities are rare on refugee sites. It gave them the opportunity to express their concerns. They also requested stronger family planning services, qualified assistance during delivery, and the provision of an ambulance for medical evacuations.
During these discussions, the children and men gathered in a tent to enjoy the music that accompanied the ceremony. The younger children began to perform dances while their parents watched. Any form of entertainment is a rare commodity in refugee sites such as this one.
The donation of the kits by UNFPA was in response to the emergency that arose in the wake of the crisis in northern Mali. In June, UNFPA donated reproductive health kits to three refugee camps and three health centres in the Sahel Region, as reinforcement for other services such as family planning, sexually transmitted infections case management, rape case handling and safe delivery, with a combined value of $72,434.
~ Zénabou Simpore