Globally, there are more than 70 million forcibly displaced people, including refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), and asylum-seekers. Among the 25.9 million refugees, close to 50% are women and girls. For refugee women, access to basic services not only includes food, water, and shelter, but also family planning and safe delivery services.
When displaced from their homes, refugee women are at increased risk of sexual violence, unplanned pregnancies, and inadequate maternal and child health care. Refugee women are more likely to experience severe pregnancy complications that may result in death.
To reduce the number of deaths and meet the maternal mortality target identified in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is pushing for more skilled medical providers, emergency obstetric care, and access to contraceptives. Through mobile clinics in refugee settings, UNFPA is further supporting women of reproductive age by providing family planning counseling services, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, and cervical cancer screenings. Recognizing the prevalence of gender based violence among displaced people, UNFPA is also implementing shelters for survivors of sexual assault, psychosocial support and legal advice programs.
For UNFPA to have the resources it needs to deliver essential services, world leaders must mobilize political support and deliver financial aid. As women who have been forced from their homes are unable to visit their regular health care providers to receive sexual and reproductive health care, the international community must ensure that local partners in humanitarian settings are prepared to meet the demand for family planning and safe delivery.
Despite the life-saving work UNFPA does every day, the Trump administration has refused to fund the agency each year it has been in power. This is a travesty for women who suffer for the lost services, and an embarrassment for Americans who recognize our key role in international health and development assistance.
On World Refugee Day, we demand that the Trump administration resume funding UNFPA. We are requesting $111 million, much of which will go toward improving the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls in vulnerable settings.