Ontario midwives call for reunification of Afghan families with midwife refugees currently in Canada

August 16, 2021

Media Release

TORONTO: Just prior to the pandemic, three former leaders of the Afghan Midwives Association entered Toronto as refugees. They had received death threats from the Taliban because of their work to support the sexual and reproductive health of women. While the three women cannot release their names publicly for fear of violent retribution against their families, Bridget Lynch, a Toronto midwife, former President of the International Confederation of Midwives, and a friend and supporter of the Afghan refugee claimant midwives, describes the current situation as "dire". She says, "Both midwives spoke to their families today. They fear violence against their families, including eight children. Canada must evacuate the families of these three women immediately."
 

Bridget Lynch, pictured here in Kabul, 2010 (CNW Group/Association of Ontario Midwives)
Bridget Lynch, pictured here in Kabul, 2010 (CNW Group/Association of Ontario Midwives)


"Now Canada must do more than help those who assisted the military. Midwives have been heroes on the frontlines in Afghanistan, literally saving the lives of women. Together, the three Afghan midwife leaders who were forced to flee to Canada had to leave behind eight children. They are in a state of absolute and complete despair. The midwives of Canada stand behind these women and we collectively call on Canada to immediately evacuate their families from Afghanistan," says Lynch.

Lynch first met both Afghan midwife leaders in 2010 when she served as the President of the International Confederation of Midwives. "These midwives' families must not be left behind. They have been in hiding from the Taliban since the midwives left. They are in very grave danger. These families face direct risks because their wives/mothers aided and abetted improving reproductive health and saving women's lives," states Lynch.

Lynch added that the families of all refugee claimants here in Canada who have completed the Visa requirements should be reunited with their families. "Some have been waiting for years on a process that has moved at a glacial pace. We should not leave them behind."

Bridget Lynch has practised midwifery in Toronto for over 30 years and taught midwifery at McMaster University where she is an Associate Professor. She is the Past President of the Association of Ontario Midwives and served for three years as the President of the International Confederation of Midwives.
 

About the Association of Ontario Midwives:

The AOM advances the clinical and professional practice of Indigenous/Aboriginal and Registered midwives in Ontario with a vision of midwives leading reproductive, pregnancy, birth & newborn care across Ontario. There are over 1,000 midwives in Ontario, serving more than 250 communities across the province. Since midwifery became a regulated health profession in 1994, more than 250,000 babies have been born under midwifery care.


For further information: To interview Bridget Lynch, please call her directly at (416) 358-7033;
Juana Berinstein, A/Executive Director, Association of Ontario Midwives, Phone: 416-425-9974 x 2229, Mobile: 416-371-1468, juana.berinstein@aom.on.ca