SECOnd Meeting of IAWG MENA
March 19-21st 2012, Cairo, Egypt
Dr. Rania Abuelhassan, International Medical Corps Libya,
shares experiences responding and preventing gender based violence.
Over sixty participants representing twelve countries attended the 2nd Meeting of the Interagency Working (IAWG) Group on Reproductive Health in Crises Middle East North Africa (MENA) Region held from 19-21st of March in Cairo, Egypt. The objectives of the meeting were to bring together academic, NGO, governmental and UN actors to share regional knowledge on reproductive health in crisis situations and to discuss how the IAWG network can better support collaborative efforts.
The IAWG Group on Reproductive Health in Crises was formed in 1995 to promote access to quality reproductive health care for refugee women and others affected by humanitarian emergencies. The first regional meeting of the IAWG MENA group was held in 2009. Many participants in this year’s meeting noted that they had not given adequate consideration to preparedness and response capacities until last year when the Arab Spring turned the tides and now as RH experts in the region, they recognize how relevant emergency preparedness and response is to save lives during crisis.
Co-chairs from the UNFPA and International Medical Corps (IMC) organized the three-day meeting that featured presentations on thematic areas including: delivering services for IDPs and refugees in urban settings, ensuring continuum of services during crisis, and challenges and achievements in preventing and responding to sexual violence. The participants also spent time in working groups discussing practical recommendations for ways the partners should continue to collaborate to advance the agenda and how the regional network can support their work.
A few of the key priorities established from the discussions include: (1) need for concerted efforts to building capacity among NGO, governmental and UN staff to roll-out the Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health in crisis (MISP) trainings at country and local levels; (2) need to strengthen advocacy efforts to ensure that RH is recognized as a priority in disaster preparedness and response plans; and (3) need to improve information sharing to build off of lessons learned. The regional group will now work to move its agenda forward through a newly formed steering committee composed of members from six organizations including both NGOs and UN agencies.