UNITED NATIONS, New York – In March, Iceland signed a new contribution of 50 million Icelandic Krona (equivalent to 388,000 US Dollars) to support UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, in its humanitarian response in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. As needs continue to soar, Iceland’s new funding will enable UNFPA to scale up life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, including protection and response services for survivors of physical and sexual violence.
Since the beginning of the war, almost 12 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine. The vast majority of them are women and children, who are at increased risk of sexual and physical violence and abuse as services become scarcer on-the-ground. Health facilities, including for maternal and newborn care, have also been damaged and destroyed, while infrastructure in neighbouring countries has been stretched to the limit by the increased caseload of refugees.
Despite challenges on-the-ground, UNFPA’s priority remains to safeguard the health, dignity and rights of women and girls impacted by the war. Since the beginning of the conflict, UNFPA has distributed 40 metric tonnes of reproductive health supplies, medicines and equipment to war-tone cities across Ukraine. Mobile teams have also been deployed to 12 cities across the country to provide mental health counseling as women and girls grapple with increased risks of violence. Thirty shelters, crisis rooms and daily care centres for displaced women and survivors of violence also remain operational.
While it is clear that the war in Ukraine will exacerbate inequalities in the region, it could also impact the most vulnerable around the world, as fuel, food and energy prices soar. On 31 March, during a pledging conference for Afghanistan, where an estimated 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN urged the international community not to abandon the people of Afghanistan. At the conference, Iceland announced a total contribution of ISK 400 million for the years 2022-2024, and pledged a 40 million ISK contribution to UNFPA (USD 314,199) for 2022.
In March, Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, traveled to New York to attend the 67th session of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW), and met with UNFPA’s Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, who thanked him for Iceland’s strong support to UNFPA. In April, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir met with Dr. Natalia Kanem during the Commission on Population and Development to announce a significant increase in core contributions, which will empower UNFPA with predictable and flexible financing to transform the lives of women and girls. Iceland and UNFPA also signed a renewed agreement for the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.
In order to continue to reach women and girls in need in Ukraine, UNFPA urgently requires $65.6 million dollars. To respond to the reproductive health and protection needs of 9.3 million people affected by the crisis in Afghanistan in 2022, UNFPA requires $251.9 million.