Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 13, 2021
Thank you so much Ann for that introduction and for the question, and, most importantly, for the opportunity to speak today at the launch of UNFPA’s 2022 Humanitarian Action Overview.
As you mentioned, I recently had the opportunity to visit one of your clinics in Zaatari Camp in Jordan and it was an extraordinary experience. The health center that I visited offered a safe, dignified space for women and children to seek medical support. The experts on staff told me that, to date, more than 14,000 babies have been delivered there without a single maternal death. And that is astonishing – it’s an astonishing figure. Especially given that over half of maternal deaths globally occur in humanitarian emergencies and fragile settings, like the ones that mothers at Zaatari fled from.
What I saw in Jordan was living, breathing proof of just how important your work is. And it made me so proud that President Biden resumed funding to UNFPA, and that we are this year’s top humanitarian donor to your work.
Supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and preventing gender-based violence, is at the top of my agenda. These are essential aspects of our humanitarian response. So, your work on all of these issues — particularly on providing access to maternal health care and contraception, which is so often underfunded and under-prioritized — is absolutely mission critical.
That is especially true now, given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the pandemic has given rise to a shadow pandemic of gender-based violence. And new data shows that maternal mortality rates and increased unintended pregnancy rates are on the rise.
These crises compel us to action. Which is why we need UNFPA as much now as ever. We need you on the ground, whether it’s helping a displaced Ethiopian family to safety or ensuring a Syrian refugee mother can give birth to a healthy baby. We need you leading the UN on sexual and reproductive health issues and coordinating our immediate response to gender-based violence emergencies. We need your leverage, your resources, and positions in forums like the Call to Action to push for accountability, catalyze change, and spearhead initiatives that protect and empower women and girls around the world. We need UNFPA because behind every one of these statistics is a family. A family whose entire world can depend on whether a mother lives or dies.
So, I want to thank you for keeping mothers and daughters alive, safe, and healthy. We are so grateful for your efforts, and the United States is proud to support UNFPA and work with you each and every day. So, let me end by where I started by thanking you for everything you do.