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MBABANE, Swaziland - In true keeping with the spirit of south-south knowledge exchange, UNFPA Swaziland and Mozambique got together for a south-south dialogue, to commemorate the World Population Day 2015, sharing knowledge, experiences and lessons on theme of the day “Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies.”

Commemorated globally on the 11th of July, the World Population Day, is a day that draws the attention of governments, policy makers, civil society and communities to pertinent and urgent global, continental and national population issues and the need to find solutions for these.  

Vulnerable populations in emergencies

The 2015 theme “Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies” put a spotlight on the needs of vulnerable populations in emergencies, particularly women and children, who face a much greater risk of abuse, sexual exploitation and violence during conflicts and natural disasters. It drew the attention of the world to the special needs of women and children, during conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, ensuring that the sexual and reproductive health needs of these populations are integrated into disaster preparedness and humanitarian services delivery plans.

The Minister of Economic Planning and Development, His Royal Highness Prince Hlangusemphi, gave the key note address at the commemoration event held at the Royal Villas Hotel. The event was hosted by National Population Unit, under the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and was financially supported by UNFPA. In attendance were representatives from the United Nations, and key sectors from the Government, including health, environment, education, agriculture and disaster management sectors; civil society organizations, and the private sector. In his address, the Minister spoke to the need to prioritize the needs of vulnerable populations, particularly women, adolescent girls and children, during humanitarian emergencies, noting the susceptibility of these populations if their needs are neglected.

UNFPA Representative, Ms Sharareh Amirkhalili, pointed to the unique reproductive health challenges that women and adolescent girls face in emergency situations, including pregnant women in need of often unavailable or compromised birth delivery services. She reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to supporting national emergency institutions in ensuring that the dignity, health, protection and safety of women were upheld, even during humanitarian emergencies.

Knowledge sharing

Both speakers concluded by thanking the multi-sector team from Mozambique for their willingness to come and share their experiences and knowledge with the people of Swaziland, and noted that this would provide useful insight in terms of ensuring that local response mechanisms are responsive to vulnerable populations.

The team from Mozambique shared their extensive knowledge and experience on how they have effectively integrated the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and adolescent girls in their national emergency response mechanism. Their presentation was followed by a dialogue where both country teams continued to share expertise and intelligence on the issue.