Statement by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin (pictured), United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, to the United Nations Population Fund, on the Protection of Women and Girls in Mosul:
I am deeply concerned about the rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis in Mosul, Iraq, and the heightened threat to the health and lives of pregnant women who may be cut off from life-saving emergency obstetric care.
Among the 200,000 people likely to be displaced during the initial weeks of military operations in Mosul, an estimated 46,000 are women and girls of reproductive age, including about 8,000 who are pregnant or about to give birth. Life-saving health services must be maintained and accessible to all who require them.
Whether women live or die in a crisis often depends on whether they can access basic sexual and reproductive health services, which too often take a back seat to other urgent needs, like food and shelter. This includes pregnant women, who may face potentially life-threatening childbirth complications, as well as lactating women, caring for newborns throughout the chaos.
UNFPA is scaling up emergency reproductive health services and its response to gender-based violence to protect the health and lives of women and girls caught in the midst of this crisis, which is expected to displace more than one million people in the weeks ahead.
Additional funding is urgently needed to mobilize health-care providers and equip them with medicines and other essential reproductive health supplies and equipment.
UNFPA is committed to the full realization of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all women and girls under all conditions, crisis or otherwise, at all times.