High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis of Yemen

02 Jun 2020

Statement of Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, at the High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis of Yemen.

Your Highness, Excellencies
Distinguished Delegates


I am here as a doctor speaking for UNFPA in the interests of the women and girls of Yemen. They may never forgive us if we do not act on time and put their silent suffering high on the priority list. It is a very serious situation and action is a must, because the realities and consequences of inaction in Yemen have never been so stark:

Nearly half of health facilities not functioning or only partially functioning. And of these at most 20 percent provide maternal and child health services.

During 2019, through the generous support of donors, UNFPA was the sole provider of reproductive health supplies in Yemen. We reached more than 2 million women and girls with reproductive health and protection services; and another 1.2 million newly displaced persons received life-saving emergency relief — through the rapid response mechanism UNFPA leads.

Now, lacking such crucial funding, we have been forced to stop life-saving reproductive health services across 140 health facilities. I pray that these facilities in Yemen can reopen. If not, an estimated 320,000 pregnant women will be cut off from reproductive health care, and more than 48,000 women could die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

Women like Zainab, whose daughter Safiya was born at home without any help. The hospital closest to her lost its gynaecologist due to the funding shortage. Zainab bled to death after the birth. Or Mariam, a war widow who also died from hemorrhage and left four orphaned children, after her local health centre stopped providing maternal health care.

By next month, July, UNFPA will be forced to scale back our gender-based violence services, including psychosocial support, thereby leaving half a million women without access to these services.

To save lives, quite literally, UNFPA calls for urgent funding of $59 million US dollars, to provide reproductive healthcare and women’s protection services through the end of 2020.

A separate $24 million is needed to deliver the COVID-19 response to protect midwives and other health workers, and women and girls seeking care.

Today I pay tribute to the midwives and female health workers who form nearly half the health work force of Yemen, who also will need and deserve PPE, personal protective equipment.

I thank them and all who are serving on the humanitarian frontline — for their strength, determination and leadership, in the face of unbearable human suffering and injustice, and I join the United Nations Secretary-General in calling for a global ceasefire and a political solution.

The Yemeni women cannot afford to wait. The international community must act urgently – hand in hand with all stakeholders – to address the needs of hundreds of thousands of women and girls like Zainab and Mariam. Their very lives are at stake.

Our plea is for all to uphold the rights, health and dignity of the women and girls of Yemen, based upon our common values of global solidarity, peace, justice and human dignity.

Shukran jazeelan
Thank you.

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