The United Nations Population Fund has inaugurated women and girls’ Safe Space Centre at the Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Gandi community in the Raba Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
The UNFPA inaugurated the facility in collaboration with Action Health Incorporated, a non-governmental organisation.
Inaugurating the centre on Thursday, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, Hajia Aisha Dantsoho, described it as a landmark achievement.
She said that officials of her ministry and donor agencies were appalled when they visited the camp, pointing out that the women and girls, who were displaced from their homes as a result of the activities of bandits were in a “disturbing condition”.
“The safe space centre was established to cater for vulnerable women and adolescent girls’ health, empowerment training and counselling.
“IDPs encountered different forms of violence and trauma as a result of banditry while some lost their husbands, children and associates,” Dantsoho said.
She said that different packages of support were rendered to the victims on several occasions, including giving them foodstuffs, sanitary materials, dignitary kits and other life-enhancing items.
The permanent secretary expressed optimism that the centre would allow women and girls to interact freely, learn different skills and other developmental programmes.
Also speaking, the UNFPA representative, Toyin Adelugba, said that the centre was established and is supported through the UNFPA Emergency Fund.
She said that it was targeted for case management, including referral support, social cohesion and life skills to affected women and adolescent girls.
She said that the UNFPA has the mandate to ensure that the sexual and reproductive health rights of the population were met in normal times and in emergencies.
“UNFPA has also supported the Sokoto State Government in essential supplies to ensure the sexual and reproductive health rights of the population and has supported in the health infrastructure development through the construction, rehabilitation and equipping of certain primary health facilities in the state.
“UNFPA has been supporting all the initiatives of the Sokoto State Government in ending gender-based violence, including harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and forced early child marriage to promote gender equality and women empowerment,” Adelugba said.
She added that UNFPA would continue to support the state government to ensure that there was zero preventable maternal death, zero unmet needs for family planning and zero gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices.
Mr. Ibrahim Ahmad, the IDP Camp Manager, said no fewer than 3,200 women and girls were resident in the camp, noting that the space centre would surely enhance their living standards.
The community leader, Alhaji Ibrahim Yari, Marafan Gandi, thanked the donors and assured them that the centre would be safeguarded and maintained.
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