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Women in 'dire need' of protection in post-apocalyptic Aleppo Open in fullscreen

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Women in 'dire need' of protection in post-apocalyptic Aleppo

The needs of women in war-ravaged Aleppo are "staggering", the UN says [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2017

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The health, hygiene and protection needs of women in war-ravaged Aleppo are "staggering", says the UN, as aid trickles through to the city following its fall to Assad's forces.

The health, hygiene and protection needs of women and girls displaced in Aleppo are staggering, the United Nations has said, voicing concern for civilians in the Syrian city that has endured intense fighting for about four years.

"The destruction is beyond imagination," said Ruba Farah, security assistant at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), who joined a convoy to eastern Aleppo from 1 to 12 January. "Schools, hospitals, roads and houses were destroyed."

Farah, who grew up in Aleppo, said she could not recognise the streets or neighbourhoods "although I used to play there every day when I was a kid".

"War has changed everything," she added.

Many residents have "long been deprived of health services" with facilities "stretched beyond limits", according to findings from the UN mission. 

Sexual and reproductive health services have been "severely strained" as a result of too few obstetricians and gynaecologists.

Even simple supplies such as menstrual pads and soap are difficult to find.

In addition, women and girls are vulnerable to gender-based violence in "overwhelmed and under-resourced" shelters lacking electricity, streetlights, and privacy, with multiple families sharing rooms and toilets.

Local aid organisations are understaffed, with many staff members having fled, died or had their movement restricted.

After the Syrian regime retook Aleppo in December 2016, UN agencies were able to reach the devastated city to deliver life-saving aid.

The UN agency and partners reached about 13,000 people in Aleppo during the latest mission, it said, providing reproductive health care and emergency obstetric and neonatal services.

This number is part of about 400,000 people whom UN agencies said they have been able to assist, out of the estimated 1.5 million displaced people in need.

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