Uniting as one humanity

19 August 2016

Message of UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin on World Humanitarian Day.

This World Humanitarian Day, we call for global solidarity and stand together with everyone affected by crisis. We unite as one humanity.

We share a common responsibility to reach those furthest behind, help the most vulnerable, and support the more than 130 million people who need humanitarian assistance, one in four of whom are women and adolescent girls of childbearing age.

In response to today’s humanitarian challenges, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, provides life-saving services, supplies and information for sexual and reproductive health and prevents and responds to gender-based violence.

UNFPA is working with partners to turn commitments at the World Humanitarian Summit into concrete action. Through a new Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action, we will drive action to address youth priorities and ensure youth participation.

Our focus goes beyond meeting immediate needs to reducing risk, building peace, strengthening resilience and supporting long-term development.

This is especially important as countries and the international community work to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. To meet these goals we must reach women, girls and young people living in countries affected by crisis.

When a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal last year, UNFPA quickly responded. Medical equipment and reproductive health kits were delivered to more than 200 health facilities, benefiting 150,000 people, ensuring safe birth for pregnant women. Fourteen female-friendly spaces were set up to provide safety, services and counselling to 100,000 women and adolescent girls.

In response to the overwhelming crisis in Syria, UNFPA is supporting approximately 200,000 reproductive health services each month, including 6,000 deliveries, inside Syria and in neighbouring countries. It is also providing services to prevent and mitigate the impact of gender-based violence.

These are just a few examples of the many ways we are working with partners to reach people in crises. But so much more needs to be done. In Aleppo, Syria, and other conflict zones, health facilities and other civilian infrastructure are being attacked, leaving people with few places to turn for emergency medical care, and women are paying a heavy price.

Imagine having to put yourself at risk of sexual violence while searching for food and water for your family. Imagine being pregnant, and trying to give birth alone, hoping there will be no life-threatening complication, or braving gunfire and air strikes to find a functioning clinic or hospital.

Today, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced, including more than 21 million refugees of whom 47 per cent are women and 51 per cent are young people under the age of 18. Each of them has made an impossible choice, leaving behind their home, belongings and loved ones in search for a better future for themselves and their families.

Every woman deserves a safe birth. Yet every day, more than 500 women and adolescent girls die of pregnancy and childbirth in humanitarian and fragile settings. Access to services, delivering safely, preventing unintended pregnancy and being safe from HIV are just as crucial as food, water and shelter.

Every person is entitled to human rights without discrimination of any kind. Yet every day, people affected by crisis face impossible choices that jeopardize their health, safety and dignity.

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