Press Release

Women and girls continue to pay a heavy price in Yemen as the conflict slips further from global view

15 March 2022


UNFPA warns of catastrophic consequences for women and girls as massive funding shortfalls impact operations.

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 15 March 2022 – Seven devastating years of fighting have left 23.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen, a country that is struggling with a dire economic crisis, damaged infrastructure, and a shattered health system. The war in Ukraine has cast a shadow over the ongoing conflict in Yemen. It could also deepen the misery and suffering for the Yemeni people if fuel and food prices increase as predicted.

“Yemeni women and girls face devastating consequences when they lack access to sexual and reproductive health and protection services, including death in pregnancy and childbirth and life-threatening violence,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA. “We must not let the crisis in Yemen slip down the global humanitarian agenda. UNFPA calls on governments and partners to increase their funding for Yemen's women and girls.” 

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is facing difficult choices as global financial and political commitments fail to keep pace with increasing needs. 

By the end of March 2022, if funding is not received, UNFPA will be forced to close 63 of the 127 health facilities it currently supports with reproductive health services, and shut down a third of the remaining shelters, safe spaces and specialized facilities for survivors of gender-based violence.

The consequences of these choices will be grave: over 1.3 million women will lose access to lifesaving reproductive health care and an estimated 17,000 could die during pregnancy and childbirth – many of them from preventable causes. Half a million women will lose access to protection and psychosocial support, as gender-based violence continues to increase in the country, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent escalations in fighting.

“A recent increase in tensions has resulted in new waves of internally displaced persons, more than half of them women and girls,” said UNFPA Representative in Yemen, Nestor Owomuhangi. “The situation is desperate. We are on the ground, we have the support mechanisms in place, but the resources to respond to it are just not coming from the international community.” 

The protracted crisis in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on women and girls and decimated the health system. 

  • One woman dies every two hours during childbirth from causes that are almost entirely preventable due to limited or a complete lack of access to services.
  • More than a million pregnant and breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished, a number likely to double as famine looms in the country.
  • Five million women and adolescent girls lack access to essential, lifesaving sexual and reproductive health care.
  • Six million women are without access to the medical and mental health support they desperately need with protection services all but eroded.
  • One in three displaced households are headed by females, increasing their vulnerability to violence.

In 2021, with the resources received, UNFPA was able to reach 2.8 million women and girls  in Yemen with lifesaving reproductive health and protection services. Another 425,000 displaced persons received lifesaving emergency relief through the Rapid Response Mechanism UNFPA leads.

On 16 March, the United Nations and the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland are convening a virtual high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. To keep reaching the most vulnerable women and girls, UNFPA requires US$100 million in 2022. To date, only 15 percent of this funding appeal has been received.
UNFPA media contacts:

In New York: Eddie Wright,; +1 917 831 2074
In Geneva: Monica Ferro,; +41 79 642 68 08
In Yemen: Lankani Sikurajapathy,; +947 73411614
Photos available on UNFPA’s response in Yemen. Any photos used must be accredited to UNFPA.
About UNFPA:
UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. UNFPA's mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, quality maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education. 

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