Statement

Seeking peace especially for women and children

8 August 2016
UNFPA Somalia Deputy Representative making a statement
UNFPA Somalia Deputy Representative making a statement

Poster Exhibition on 71 Years of Seeking Peace: Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Statement by Grace Kyeyune, UNFPA Somalia Deputy Representative

Nairobi, Kenya - 8th August, 2016

On behalf of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Somalia and indeed on my own behalf, I am pleased to be here this morning to join you all; distinguished ladies and gentlemen, at this very important ceremony; the Poster Exhibition on 71 Years of Seeking Peace: Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

May I take this opportunity to commend the organisers of this exhibition for working towards contributing to advocating for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons and towards a conflict-free environment for all.  

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the significance of this event lies in the lasting negative consequences of the Second World War when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This introduced to the world a new class of weapons of mass destruction.

As you will see in the exhibition, the consequences have been dire. Apart from the many different cancers that continue to affect people; some pregnant women continue to face health challenges from radiation including premature loss of their unborn babies while some babies are born with deformities. It is therefore important that the world should avoid conflict and the use of atomic bombs.

Ladies and gentlemen; humanitarian crises; whether caused by armed conflict or natural disaster - always hurt women and girls the most.   In times of upheaval, pregnancy-related deaths and sexual violence soar. Reproductive health services - including prenatal care, assisted delivery, and emergency obstetric care - often become unavailable. Many women lose access to family planning services, exposing them to unwanted pregnancy in perilous conditions.

Conflict hampers the availability, accessibility and affordability of social welfare services, in particular health care, despite the fact that people; especially women, have continuous needs for reproductive health care and that they do not stop giving births merely because there is ongoing conflict.

The impact of armed conflict or natural disaster is indeed overwhelming, particularly for women and children.   Women and children account for more than 75 percent of the refugees and displaced persons at risk from war, famine, persecution and natural disaster. Women of reproductive age comprise a quarter of the at-risk population. One in five is likely to be pregnant. Many women forced to flee were already poor or otherwise vulnerable in the first place. Away from their partners and their communities, alone with their children, their vulnerability to sexual exploitation and violence is even higher. Vulnerability to natural disasters is increasing, exacerbated by poverty and environmental destruction. At least 90 per cent of the victims of natural disasters live in developing countries.

Young people become more vulnerable to HIV infection and sexual exploitation in crises. Here in Africa, young people, comprising a large proportion of the population, are direct targets and victims of conflict as well. The synergistic relationship between conflict and growth of the youth shows that the former exacerbates social, economic and political systems, on which the latter heavily depends. When the youth are not provided with opportunities to reach their potential, they turn to conflict to sustain themselves, often directly and actively engaging in conflict. Furthermore, conflict negatively affects the overall national systems as a whole to properly function to manage the matters of the nation state.

At UNFPA we know that we cannot build the wellbeing of individuals, including their health and education, without each individual enjoying peace. May I therefore take this opportunity to urge development agencies, the international community, and all of us gathered here to accelerate our determination to realise peace in Africa and around the world. Millions, especially women and girls around the world count on us. We – the international community – cannot let them down. We have a moral obligation to do whatever we can. Their lives depend on it.

Thank you for your attention. Enjoy the exhibition.

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For more information please contact UNFPA Somalia Communications Specialist Pilirani Semu-Banda on e-mail: [email protected]