UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, launched its largest ever humanitarian appeal on 7 December to reach 54 million women, girls and young people in 68 countries, including Bangladesh.
The total appeal is for $818 million while Bangladesh needs $19 million, says a press release.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to strain global health systems, the disproportionate impact felt by women and girls in humanitarian crises has become increasingly evident.
In addition to hosting one of the world's largest refugee populations, Bangladesh is also highly vulnerable to climate-related disasters. Around two million people are expected to require humanitarian assistance in 2021, including Rohingya refugees, host community members and other disaster-affected populations.
UNFPA provides life-saving sexual and reproductive health and protection services and supports 38 women-friendly spaces across the country, 23 of which are in Cox's Bazar, the news release says.
Lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services are being interrupted, gender-based violence (GBV) is skyrocketing, and the need for psychosocial support is rising.
Through this humanitarian appeal, UNFPA emphasizes the need to adapt and integrate services for sexual and reproductive health, GBV and mental health and psychosocial support during Covid-19.
UNFPA also calls for more investment in local women-led organizations as well as youth organizations that work as frontline responders and changemakers.
"The rights and needs of women and adolescent girls in emergencies are often overlooked, and Covid-19 has made matters worse, with rising intimate partner violence, sexual violence and child marriage," said Dr Natalia Kanem, UNFPA executive director.
"Whether she lives in a house or a tent in a refugee camp, every woman and girl has a right to peace in the home. Whether in a warzone, displaced or affected by natural disaster, she has a right to good health and wellbeing, and to live with dignity. Funding can spell the difference between life and death in a crisis. What's more, investments in women and girls and in their leadership improve prospects for sustainable peace, prosperity and development," she added.
Below is a snapshot of other countries requiring UNFPA support:
Yemen: Humanitarian conditions in Yemen continue to deteriorate given the protracted political crisis complicated by internal displacement, food insecurity, outbreaks of cholera and now Covid-19. Over 80 percent of the population, including more than a million pregnant women, many of whom are acutely malnourished, require some form of assistance. Only half of Yemen's healthcare facilities remain functional, and reports of GBV are rising. UNFPA 2021 funding requirement for Yemen is $100 million.
Syria: After a decade of conflict, the humanitarian situation in Syria remains dire. Over 11 million people require assistance, and close to 5.7 million people have taken refuge in neighbouring countries. Disruption of community networks, a collapsing economy, and the Covid-19 pandemic have all led to a health and protection crisis in the country, especially for women and girls. UNFPA is working with partners to ensure continuity of services for sexual and reproductive health and GBV, and provision of essential supplies. For Syria, UNFPA 2021 funding requirement is $81 million.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: In DRC, UNFPA works with other UN agencies to promote peaceful coexistence between communities and address the structural causes of the intercommunal conflict, with a particular emphasis on women and young people. Moreover, UNFPA helped establish or scale up hotlines to provide life-saving assistance for survivors of GBV during the pandemic. UNFPA 2021 funding requirement is $67 million for DRC.
Sudan: Humanitarian needs in Sudan remain extensive, driven by flooding, displacement, economic challenges and outbreaks of disease, including Covid-19. Of the estimated 12.7 million people who require assistance, nearly 300,000 are pregnant women. Yet, fewer than one third of health facilities in Sudan offer emergency obstetric care. Availability of GBV services is also limited. Sudan needs $40 million.
Venezuela (and neighbouring countries): The pandemic and its economic impact have complicated the humanitarian situation in Venezuela and the surrounding host countries. Measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 have disrupted access to basic services and caused tens of thousands of people who were living in neighbouring countries to return to Venezuela. UNFPA is working to ensure continuity of sexual and reproductive health services and reduce the risk of GBV among Venezuelan girls, women and host communities. UNFPA 2021 funding requirement for Venezuela is $27 million.
In 2020, UNFPA worked with governments and partners to reach women and young people in crisis-stricken areas. Through this support and collaboration, the agency served:
- Over seven million women in 53 countries with sexual and reproductive health services
- More than four million people in 49 countries with family planning supplies and services
- Around three million people with services to address gender-based violence