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Sister UN Agencies Boost Service To Vulnerable

Sister UN agencies boost ties to better serve world's vulnerable

1 May 2008 - The United Nations agencies tasked with assisting refugees and promoting sexual and reproductive health rights have bolstered their partnership to tackle common challenges such as combating sexual and gender-based violence and addressing the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid signed a joint letter in Geneva yesterday formalizing the strengthened ties between the two bodies which have been working together for many years on issues of mutual concern.

"The newly signed letter is an attempt to broaden the cooperation between the agencies," said Karl Steinacker, head of UNHCR's field information and coordination support section.

The two agencies have collaborated to ensure that refugees and IDPs can enjoy their rights to good health, including in the preparation of health manuals, and to provide training, guidelines and resources to combat sexual and gender-based violence, particularly in refugee communities.

In addition, UNFPA supplies UNHCR with items, including male and female condoms, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections in conflict zones.

They have also worked together on a photographic and video project - "Positive Living, an exhibition for refugee settings" - designed to help de-stigmatize HIV/AIDS by showing that people living with HIV can lead a normal existence, which has toured refugee camps all over Africa.

Other areas where the two agencies stand to benefit from closer cooperation include obtaining accurate information on displaced populations, which will help to ensure that the vulnerable receive the assistance they need. Also, UNFPA's expertise in carrying out population censuses can help in identifying the world's stateless people.


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