Sana’a, Yemen, 27 March 2017 – UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund estimates that the health and protection of more than 2.2 million women and girls of childbearing age are at risk as the conflict in Yemen enters two-years.
Over three million people are displaced because of the conflict, said UNFPA’s representative a.i. Ezizgeldi Hellenov. More than of half of them are women and girls; they are typically those that pay the highest price in any war.”
As of March 2017, 18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian support, and 10.3 million in acute need. Rising food shortages have left an estimated 1.1 million pregnant women malnourished. The breakdown in health services, with nearly one third of the total number of health facilities currently providing maternal and newborn care services can result in the death of one thousand of the 52,800 pregnant women in Yemen at increased risk of developing complications during childbirth.
In a country with one of the highest maternal death rates in the Arab region, lack of food, poor nutrition and eroding healthcare could mean an increase in premature or low-birth weight babies and severe postpartum bleeding, making the process of giving birth more life threatening.
Displacement and the breakdown of protection mechanisms has drastically increased the vulnerability of women and girls to violence, whose position in society was already at a disadvantage before the conflict. Incidents of gender-based violence have reportedly increased by over 63 percent in the last two years, with over 10,000 such cases of violence reported in 2016 alone. This means more frequent rapes, domestic violence, forced and child marriage, physical and psychological abuse and trauma, and many more acts of violence against women and girls compared to two years ago.
An estimated 14.8 million people are lacking access to basic health care, including reproductive health. Medical supplies are in chronically short supply, with less than half of all health facilities functioning across the country. UNFPA is working to provide much needed medicines, medical equipment, mobile clinics and the training of health personnel, including midwives, in order to protect the lives of women and girls in reproductive age.
“To date, we has reached more than 1 million people with life-saving reproductive health care services, commodities, medicines and equipment, as well psycho-social support. These efforts and interventions on the ground have only been possible through the generous financial support of our donors,” said Dr. Hellenov.
UNFPA calls for urgent attention to the needs of women and girls in Yemen, who remain the most vulnerable, in this unfolding humanitarian catastrophe, and is appealing for $22.1 million under the 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan aimed to reach the 2.2 million women and girls in urgent need.