As world leaders gather at the United Nations for a high-level event on Yemen, UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, calls for the prioritization of the health, safety and rights of Yemeni women and girls, and immediate action to end their ongoing suffering.
UNFPA estimates that nearly 1.5 million women and girls will lose access to life-saving health and protection services in the next three months as funding dries up, forcing emergency relief operations to be dramatically scaled back at the same time as needs continue to grow.
Women and girls remain disproportionately affected by Yemen’s crisis. An estimated 73 percent of the more than 4 million people displaced in Yemen are women and children. Nearly one in three displaced households are headed by females, compared to 9 percent before the escalation of the conflict in 2015.
“The women of Yemen deserve peace and protection,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “Their lives are under threat and the services they desperately rely on to survive are underfunded. UNFPA calls on governments and partners to stand with Yemeni women and girls in their time of need by funding life-saving services to protect their reproductive health and to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.”
More than 6 million women require urgent access to protection services, while 5 million women and adolescent girls of childbearing age have limited, or no access, to reproductive health services. Due to the lack of services, one woman dies every two hours during childbirth from causes that are almost entirely preventable.
More than a million pregnant and breastfeeding women are already acutely malnourished, and this number is likely to double if food insecurity rises due to a dwindling commitment to Yemen’s humanitarian response.
“We not only need more funding to sustain services, but we urgently need to scale up services to save the lives of women and girls,” said UNFPA Representative in Yemen Nestor Owomuhangi. “If we collectively fail to do so, women and girls will die.”
In the first six months of 2021, UNFPA reached more than 1.2 million people with life-saving reproductive health and protection services and emergency relief, targeting support to women and girls through 118 health facilities, 47 safe spaces, eight shelters, and eight specialized mental health centres.
UNFPA has received 41 percent of the funding it needs to continue delivering essential and life-saving services, but requires an additional $59 million to meet the urgent needs of women and girls in Yemen until the end of 2021.