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Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia –The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will work together to protect maternal and child health, as well as to address violence against women and children within the context of the national response to COVID-19 in Mongolia. Under this project (MNT 220 million, equaling to USD 80,000), maternal healthcare professionals in Ulaanbaatar, and in the border provinces of Bayan-Ulgii, Umnogovi, Dornogovi, and Selenge will be trained to respond  to support pregnant women and infants and be able to continue providing quality health services even in the event of a global pandemic.

The project also aims to help prevent violence against women and children by extending the national campaign against domestic violence, “Хайр Өвтгөдөггүй” (Love Does Not Hurt), provision of child protection case management services, prioritizing cases of children at high risk, and through the creation of mental health resources to help women, men, adolescents, and children manage their stress and cultivate healthy relationships at home in the time of social distancing.

Dignity Kits, which contain basic hygiene and sanitation items, will also be distributed to vulnerable women and men in quarantine as well as to institutional care centers to provide the much needed supplies to protect themselves and maintain hygiene, self-respect and dignity in difficult circumstances. Finally, staff of residential care centers, orphanages, shelters and one stop service centers for domestic violence survivors will be trained to continue to provide effective services in a safe and secure way in an outbreak situation, while COVID-19 response front-liners like healthcare professionals will be taught to detect and refer survivors of domestic violence to the right channels to avail of services.

“Across the world, social issues that affect the most vulnerable groups are emerging as a result of measures to prevent an outbreak within the country,” said Kaori Ishikawa, UNFPA Mongolia’s Head of Office. “We are grateful for the opportunity to closely collaborate with UNICEF, as well as the Mongolian government and civil society partners in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of women, mothers and their children in this very difficult time.”

“The funding for this joint project comes from a  MNT 1.7 billion (USD 610,000) contribution from the Government of Japan to UNICEF Mongolia. With this generous support, UNICEF and partners will be able to better address the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19 measures on women and children across Mongolia including health, nutrition, education and protection” said Alex Heikens, UNICEF Representative in Mongolia.

The combination of economic and social stresses brought on by the pandemic, as well as restrictions on movement, have dramatically increased the numbers of women and girls facing abuse, in almost all countries. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.

The agreement between two UN agencies was signed on 1 April 2020 and activities will run until September 2020.