Humanitarian Response

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Last year, 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection.

Women and girls are among the most vulnerable in emergency situations. They are the first to go without food, the first to lose access to education and essential health care, and the first to put others–like children, the sick, and elderly parents– before themselves. The stress of an emergency makes women and girls more vulnerable to violence at home, like physical abuse and child marriage, as well as vulnerable to sexual and psychological violence as a weapon of war. And, even while women and girls navigate the dangers of emergencies, they continue to get their periods, become pregnant, and give birth. 
We deliver lifesaving care in the most dangerous, isolated, and complex crises so that, even in the darkest of times, women and girls can manage their periods, have healthy pregnancies, and deliver their babies safely. This work is critical, as more than half of maternal deaths occur in humanitarian settings. In Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Haiti, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh, we are there, no matter what. 
Our Work Responding to Humanitarian Crises:

Our Work Responding to Humanitarian Crises:

  • Distributing dignity kits and emergency birth kits, so women and girls can manage their periods and safely give birth, even in a crisis. 
  • Operating mobile health clinics and deploying health care staff to reach women and girls living in refugee camps or who are migrating to safety.
  • Distributing information on how to report violence and managing safe spaces so survivors of violence can access the mental health care and community support they need.

Our Impact in 2022

30 M
reached with sexual and reproductive health services and supplies in countries affected by emergencies.
1.4 M
safely delivered in humanitarian and fragile settings.
2 M
received violence prevention or protection services.
Giving Birth Surrounded by Bullets

Giving Birth Surrounded by Bullets

“Bullets were coming from all the corners of the street,” Shrook, a UNFPA midwife, remembers. “When I arrived at the gate, I found the pregnant woman lying down and crying for help. I pulled her and rushed her inside a car… That is where all of it happened. In a few minutes, she had delivered a healthy baby boy.” In Yemen, where ongoing conflict has devastated the country’s health care system, one woman dies every two hours from pregnancy and childbirth complications. We train and equip midwives like Shrook so women continue to have access to lifesaving care, even in the heart of conflict.

Letting Girls be Girls

Letting Girls be Girls

Mariam, a 16-year-old girl in Syria, explained how her life “quickly became an open-air prison after the war. Suddenly, we were told not to leave our houses because we might get harassed, raped or kidnapped. I’m told that being married is my only path to true safety, but I don’t want to get married. I’m simply not ready.” In times of crisis, some parents resort to child marriage as a means to protect their daughters. However, they fail to realize that marriage can be a source of violence itself. We work to protect girls’ rights and keep them safe from violence, even during emergencies.

Becoming the Safe Space She Needed

Becoming the Safe Space She Needed

Marlyng is among the more than 5 million people who have fled Venezuela for safety in places like Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. She decided to leave her home when she was no longer able to provide for her children. Marlyng reached one of UNFPA’s 19 safe spaces in Colombia, where as a survivor of violence,  she accessed mental health counseling, skills training sessions, and community-building activities. Once she was back on her feet, Marlyng decided to host migrants in her home and refer other survivors to the space. She said, “I have always been a helpful person… To be able to support them, tell them they are not alone moves my heart greatly.”