Sana’a, Yemen, 30 March 2016 – A year of intensification of the conflict in Yemen, has led to 21.2 million people requiring some form of humanitarian assistance, with nearly half of them being women and girls. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund is increasingly concerned for the needs of an estimated 3.4 million women of reproductive age (between 15 and 49 years), of whom nearly 500,000 are pregnant and will give birth within the next nine months.
The conflict has also resulted in the breakdown of health services, with severe shortages of qualified medical personnel and life-saving reproductive health supplies, leaving an estimated 15.2 million people in need of health assistance, including access to reproductive health services. The lack of these services and supplies can result in an estimated 1,000 maternal deaths among 68,000 pregnant women who are at risk of life-threatening complications during childbirth.
“The status of women and girls was already weak in Yemen prior to the conflict; 92 per cent of women reported that violence against women commonly occurred in the home. And today, they are even more vulnerable, exposed to abuse and exploitation”, said Lene K. Christiansen, UNFPA Representative in Yemen. “Women and girls lack access to humanitarian aid, including reproductive health services, and are therefore even more at risk of unwanted pregnancies which in turn can put their lives at risk”.
Despite the security and logistical challenges, UNFPA continues its efforts to meet the needs of women and girls in the field of reproductive health, and to help protect them from gender-based violence. To date, UNFPA has supported 38 hospitals across the country with lifesaving reproductive health equipment, medicines and supplies. Reproductive health kits containing medical and surgical supplies ensure safe deliveries including at home. These have benefited some 453,000 women and girls of reproductive age. In remote conflict affected areas, UNFPA supported mobile teams operate, providing reproductive health services that include antenatal and postnatal care, family planning services and assistance for safe deliveries.
UNFPA has provided more than 100,000 dignity kits to the most vulnerable women and girls in 19 governorates in Yemen to maintain their personal and menstrual hygiene.
In addition, over 6,000 survivors of gender-based violence have accessed services that include psycho-social support, legal aid, access to safe houses, and referral to health and other services; and awareness raising sessions continue with the engagement of men and boys.
Through the recently launched 2016 Yemen Humanitarian Response, UNFPA has appealed for $15.6 million to ensure the continuation of sexual and reproductive health services and to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in Yemen.