Conflict fueling sexual violence in northern Ethiopia

MEKELLE, Tigray – “We tried to flee on the back of a truck, but they caught us. They took me away, raped me and left me in the bush.” Mahlet* was just 17 when she fled her home in November 2021 to escape the conflict raging in Ethiopia’s northern…

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Ukrainian refugees in Moldova guaranteed access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services

KYIV, Ukraine – “I caught the last evacuation train out. The next day, the station was bombed.” Katya is still haunted by the very different turn her life could have taken.  At seven-months pregnant, she had been hiding with her family in a basement for 11 days. When she…

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Three survivors, three stories: Picking up the pieces of lives broken by obstetric fistula

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo/KURIGRAM DISTRICT, Bangladesh/KILIFI, Kenya Pemba was called “ndoki,” or “witch,” by her community, including her father and siblings. Sojina felt like a prisoner in the room she was banished to, forbidden to step outside even to worship. Jamila’s career as an early childhood development…

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UNFPA and WFP join forces to meet soaring reproductive health and nutrition needs in southern Madagascar

AMBOASARY/GRAND SUD, Madagascar – Just weeks away from delivering her fifth child, Homoroe Haova, 33, looked down at her stomach and smiled, reassured she could give birth safely as well as feed her children in the coming weeks. Homoroe was among 800 women who had waited in line all…

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Ukrainian refugees build new lives far from home

MEDYKA, Poland Ivanna was four months pregnant when she and her two children fled their home. She left behind everything she knew in Ukraine, including where to access maternal health care. She also left behind her 65-year-old father, who wished to stay. Their destination was Antwerp, Belgium, where…

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A fresh start for women sanitation workers in India

PATNA, India – “When we wear our uniforms, people recognize us and we feel a sense of pride. They say –  just look at what these women have achieved and the work they are doing… They have left the men behind.” Rani, 28, lives with her husband, two children,…

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7 things you might not know about child marriage

UNITED NATIONS, New York – Around the world, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, romance, and commitment. It’s an occasion, perhaps, to propose. But for millions, what should be a joyous moment is not the stuff of fairy tales. Too many women and girls are married off before…

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In this refugee camp, midwives have delivered over 14,000 babies with zero maternal deaths

ZAATARI CAMP, Jordan – “On my first day at work in the camp, I cried a lot. At that time, I had not worked with refugees before, and I had no idea about their conditions,” Ammoun Kitabi, a 58-year-old midwife, told UNFPA, at the reproductive health clinic in Zaatari…

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Supporting safe birth amid deteriorating situation in Afghanistan

DAIKUNDI, Afghanistan  The delivery of reproductive health services, including safe birth, was seriously affected by the worsening situation in Afghanistan. Najaba, 36, experienced firsthand how the dangers of pregnancy collided with rising insecurity. A mother of four from Zaradnay Village, Najaba visited the district hospital just before her…

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Midwives continue to deliver amid uncertainty in Afghanistan

NEW YORK, United Nations/Afghanistan – Even before the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the maternal health situation. Pregnant women faced one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. Today, “humanitarian catastrophe looms”, said UNFPA’s Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem at a high-level meeting at United Nations Headquarters. Forty years of conflict, chronic poverty,…

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