Ha Noi, 10 July 2015 – As the world prepares to observe World Population Day on July 11th, UNFPA calls for the international community to double efforts to protect the health and rights of women and girls during conflicts and humanitarian disasters.
A recent United Nations report warns that the number of forcibly displaced people has risen to a record number – almost 60 million at the end of 2014. Among these, most women and adolescent girls face particular threats as a result of the absence of health and other essential services that they need.
“Even under normal conditions, reproductive health complications are a leading cause of death and illness among women of childbearing age” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. “In humanitarian situations, an estimated one in five women and adolescent girls are likely to be pregnant. As skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care often become unavailable, pregnant women’s and girls’ vulnerability to death and injury is further exacerbated".
Women and adolescent girls also face much greater risk of abuse, sexual exploitation, violence and forced marriage during conflicts and natural disasters. In addition, many women who survive a crisis become heads of household, with the sole responsibility of caring for their children. They often have to overcome immense obstacles to provide health and care for children, the sick, the injured and the elderly, and bear the heaviest burden of relief and reconstruction. As a result, they may neglect their own needs as they care for others.
Viet Nam is one of the most hazard-prone countries in the Asia and Pacific region. With the long coast line and approximately 70% of population living in the coastal areas and low-lying deltas, it is one of the five countries in the world that is most affected by climate change. Viet Nam needs to prepare well for responding natural disasters effectively while ensuring that the critical needs of women and girls are not overlooked at the onset of emergencies. "Given Viet Nam’s vulnerability to natural disasters, Viet Nam needs to effectively carry out communication and behavior change activities on reproductive health and family planning, particularly for vulnerable populations in the remote, hard-to-reach areas affected by natural disaster" said Mr Nguyen Viet Tien, Vice Minister of Health.
UNFPA Acting Representative in Viet Nam, Ritsu Nacken, stressed UNFPA’s strong commitment to assist. “UNFPA works with the Government and other development partners to help secure the health, development and human rights of Vietnamese people, particularly women and girls. When a crisis strikes, UNFPA is on the ground to make sure that the rights and needs of women and girls are at the forefront of humanitarian response. Securing their safety, dignity and health ensures the well-being of families and communities” said Ms Nacken.
UNFPA deploys hygiene kits, obstetric and contraceptive supplies, trained personnel and other support to vulnerable populations. It also works to ensure the needs of women, adolescent girls and young people are served through both an emergency and the reconstruction phase. UNFPA’s aim is to ensure that women’s and adolescent girls’ right to sexual and reproductive health is protected and their safety is ensured.
On this World Population Day, UNFPA called on the Government of Viet Nam and international community to enhance efforts to protect the health and rights of women and girls. By prioritizing health, rights and the full participation of women, adolescent girls and young people in public life, we increase our prospects for a more just, stable and peaceful world.
Please click here to watch the TV spot on WPD 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nbz_lkzaOM and click here to watch the reportage on Vulnerable populations in Emergencies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eP8by-JRejk