In December 2021, Yemen took on a grim distinction: For the third year in a row, it was the country that needed the most humanitarian funding support in the world. Of the 20.7 million people needing assistance or protection, 12 million are in acute need. Though last year’s $100 million humanitarian appeal was only half funded, UNFPA reached nearly 2.8 million people with reproductive health services, protection information and services and emergency relief, supporting 127 health care facilities, 1,500 reproductive health workers, 51 safe spaces, nine shelters and eight mental health centres. This month, without additional funding, 63 of those health facilities and a third of the safe spaces, shelters and specialized facilities for gender-based survivors will be forced to shut, leaving nearly 1.3 million women without access to reproductive health care and protection and psychosocial support.
Top: A displaced girl inside her temporary shelter at an internally displaced persons camp in Marib, Yemen. © UN/Giles Clarke
At the Starobilsk Multidisciplinary Hospital in Luhansk, women are giving birth in the basement with artillery shelling nearby. This woman had a baby boy on a day the hospital issued three bomb alerts. © Starobilsk Multidisciplinary Hospital
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 800 women around the world died every day from pregnancy-related causes. For each one of these deaths, another 20 to 30 women suffered acute or chronic illness or disabilities from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
The Nairobi Summit in November 2019 was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), at which non-state actors made $8 billion in financial commitments to support the full implementation of the Programme of Action, including ending preventable maternal deaths. A High-Level Commission was established on 17 September 2020, tasked with keeping the 1,300 commitments made at the Nairobi Summit on track as COVID-19 threatened to turn back the clock on maternal health.
The Safe Birth Even Here campaign is aimed at raising public awareness of the alarming rate of maternal deaths in emergency and humanitarian settings and increasing support for protecting the rights of women and girls living in these precarious environments. This photo gallery is a snapshot of maternal health in humanitarian settings in the midst of the pandemic, highlighting the urgency of reducing maternal mortality through greater investments and maintaining the momentum of the Nairobi Summit.
Khadija, a 28-year-old Syrian woman from Deir Ezzour, recently survived a harrowing journey as she gave birth to her sixth child. With help from the UNFPA-supported mobile team she was referred to a hospital and safely delivered her new baby boy, Mohamed. © UNFPA Syria
Super Typhoon Rai made landfall in the Philippines on 16 December. It was the third strongest storm ever recorded in the northern hemisphere. © UNFPA Philippines/Sittie Rajabia Monato
In July 2021, the Al-Ashur family tent burned down in the Om Elhadage internally displaced persons camp in Marib, home to 150 people. The Al-Ashurs – a grandfather, two parents and 7 children – had come to the camp when fighting near their home close to the front lines intensified, forcing them to leave. The family slept in the open air until a UNFPA-led Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) team, while distributing emergency relief, volunteered to help rebuild the family’s temporary home, completing it in 48 hours.
Above, the family patriarch and his granddaughter search for anything they can salvage among the ashes of what used to be their home. They were able to find items for cooking but not much else, losing all their clothes and bedding they had brought when they fled to the camp. © UNFPA Yemen
Already contending with political instability, gang violence that has displaced thousands and COVID-19, Haiti now faces the cruel aftermath of the 14 August 7.2-magnitude earthquake that has so far claimed 1,400 lives and injured more than 6,900 while hundreds remain missing, according to OCHA. The epicentre was recorded about 125 kilometres west of the capital, Port-au-Prince; the southern and western parts of the country were hardest hit. Hospitals were damaged or destroyed, overwhelming those still standing. Needs for food, shelter, safe water, sanitation and hygiene and medicines will continue to grow. Tropical Storm Grace has complicated relief efforts here, which is under a one-month national state of emergency. Cartagena Street (above) is in the seaport and commune of Les Cayes, which bore a significant brunt of the quake. Buildings including schools, hospitals and churches were flattened or smashed, roads were rendered impassable and more than 37,000 homes have been destroyed and 46,000 damaged throughout affected areas, according to the Haitian Civil Protection General Directorate. Updated 18 August: The death toll stands near 2,000 and injured approaching 10,000. Almost 61,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 76,000 damaged in the three most affected areas. © UNFPA Haiti/Ralph Tedy Erol