Umme and Espinorio
UNFPA Philippines
Location: Philippines.
Occupation: Humanitarian worker.

Marawi City, Philippines – Two years ago in May 2017, a 26-year-old social worker, Umme Limbona, found herself stuck inside the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City, when the island city of Mindanao in Southern Philippines was seized by a local non-state armed group inspired by ISIS.
“The terrorists had barged in the hospital, and we were trapped for the rest of the night,”
she told UNFPA.

“They shot a police officer. We felt hopeless,”
she recalled.

She knew she had to get to safety. “I was very scared, but I managed to escape by jumping out of a window from the third-floor supply room onto the terrace of a neighboring building.” The fierce urban combat between the terrorists and the government forces was eventually declared over in October 2017.  21 months later today, however, some 66,000 people still remain displaced, living in evacuation centers, temporary shelters and host communities. Caught on the front lines of a humanitarian crisis, Umme keeps on delivering assistance to those who need it most.
Protecting women and children from violence
Umme works at a UNFPA-supported Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU) in Marawi City. She is part of an all women multi-disciplinary team that provides life-saving support to women and children who survived violence.
The facility enhances access for the gender-based violence survivors to coordinated life-saving interventions such as medical care led by Dr. Abdulcarim, mental health and psychosocial support from Umme, as well as police assistance coordinated by Police Officer Ms. Chrestine Espinorio.  
Although violence against women and girls is pervasive in times of peace, armed conflict and other emergencies further increase their vulnerabilities to gender-based violence - including sexual violence, exploitation, and trafficking - threatening the lives and well-being of those women and girls.
“I want to be there for women when their rights are being trampled, anytime including during an emergency.  As a police officer attached to the WCPU, I would like to contribute to restoring our fellow women’s and girls’ dignity and hope and building back better,” said Police Officer Espinorio.
World Humanitarian Day
Women like Social Worker Umme and Police Officer Espinorio are among many Filipinos who are risking their own lives to save others in humanitarian crises. On 19 August, World Humanitarian Day, we renew our tribute and admiration towards these brave and noble citizens.  They are needed as much today as ever before, to further strengthen the foundation of the global humanitarian response. 
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, where 179 governments including the Philippines agreed to empower women, educate girls, and eliminate gender-based violence.  The ICPD Programme of Action also stated that “Governments and the international community should give greater attention to, and manifest greater solidarity with, poor families and families that have been victimized by war, drought, famine, natural disasters and racial and ethnic discrimination or violence.”
Health service providers at the grassroots level are playing a particularly important role in addressing the unfinished agenda of this ICPD Programme of Action. “Although it is quite challenging and emotionally heavy work, I feel very fulfilled because we are extending help to those women and girls who never thought that anyone could help them, especially in emergencies,” said Umme.