By Favour Nnabugwu
United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, has denied claims by Project for Human Development, PHD, that it planned to offer abortion services to pregnant women and girls rescued from Boko Haram’s captivity.
UNFPA representative in Nigeria, Ratidzai Ndhlovu, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, denied the allegation of promoting abortion or anything close to it, adding that the agency’s activities were helping to reduce the recourse to abortion in Nigeria.
He said: “UNFPA does not promote abortion as a method of family planning nor does it have any abortion related interventions in Nigeria.
“UNFPA supports voluntary family planning so that women and men can freely determine the number, timing and spacing of their children as well as prevent unwanted pregnancies.
‘’It is their human right to do so and to have the means to exercise that right. This helps reduce recourse to abortion. All UNFPA support abides by Nigeria’s laws.
“UNFPA is committed to delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. Its mandate was determined by United Nations Members, including Nigeria.”
“All UNFPA-supported interventions are approved, owned and implemented by Nigeria and respects the nation’s sovereignty, laws and priorities.
UNFPA’s work is done through its partners such as Federal and State governments in Nigeria.’’
Nigeria, Ndhlovu averred, remained one of the countries which 1965 appeal to the United Nations ultimately inspired UNFPA’s creation a few years later.
“UNFPA in Nigeria is committed to save lives, restore dignity and rebuild broken lives of vulnerable women and girls,’’ he said.
He said the agency in 2014 alone supported more than 16,000 safe deliveries in North East Nigeria, while it reached out to 2,620,000 women and girls with SRH services, including Gender Based Violence, GBV, management, in North East Nigeria.
Ndhlovu said the agency also supported provision of modern family planning services to an estimated 2,093,588 women and Couple Year Protection of 2, 222,029 countrywide, adding that this averted 2,383 maternal deaths nationwide.
He said it also supported the provision of 1,045 free fistula treatment surgeries with 97% success rate across the country.
“Upon the arrival of rescued women and children in Malkohi camp in Yola, UNFPA responded immediately by providing reproductive health care and psychosocial counselling to survivors of violence.
“Women and girls who survive unimaginable trauma of captivity and brutalizing violence need immediate and compassionate care and UNFPA has been, as always, determined to ensure that they are given everything they need to be able to heal with dignity, safety and a restored sense of self-worth,” Ndhlovu said.