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Statement attributable to UNFPA Director for the Arab States Regional Office, Dr. Luay Shabaneh, on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia

The devastating drought currently ravaging Somalia is threatening the lives of 607 thousand pregnant women around the country. More than 130 thousands of them may require critical and urgent assistance. Somalia already has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world (732) and one out of every 22 women is likely to die due to pregnancy or childbrith-related causes during her life course.

About 6.2 million people in Somalia are presently in need of humanitarian assistance, including 3.3 million people require immediate access to emergency health services and hygiene.

Limited access to reproductive health services puts the lives of many women and babies at high risk during emergencies especially when attention is primarily focused on the needs for shelter, food and security. The specific needs of women and girls are no less urgent and should be at the same priority level as other needs.

Moreover, in situations of acute humanitarian emergencies, food scarcity may lead to the exclusion of the more vulnerable groups, such as women, from food aid generally, thus denying them a basic right to aid and making them victims of discrimination and gender-based violence (GBV). The direct implication of food scarcity on pregnant women is an increase in miscarriages and death due to malnutrition.

UNFPA is stepping up efforts towards ensuring adequate humanitarian response to the needs of the women and girls affected by the drought and appealing to international donors for funding of $24 million to cover reproductive health needs and GBV protection and response. 



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