Humanitarian Response in Urban Settings: Meeting the Maternal and Newborn Health Needs of Displaced Persons


Humanitarian crises expose vast health inequities. Globally, women and children are up to 14 times more likely to die than men in a humanitarian crisis. And of the 15 countries with the highest neonatal mortality rates, 14 are affected by chronic conflict or political instability.

The world’s humanitarian landscape is changing. Today more than 60% of the world’s refugees and 80% of internally displaced persons (IDPs) live in urban areas. Strains on local systems due to population density and diversity, political complexity, the presence of informal power structures, and other common features of urban settings can exacerbate pre-existing health inequities that harm displaced mothers and newborns. Such unique urban challenges require humanitarian actors to rethink how and where they respond.

On May 31, please join Save the Children, the Maternal Health Task Force, and the Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative for a discussion on the issues and lessons learned in responding to the needs of displaced persons in urban areas, with an emphasis on maternal and newborn health.


Sarah Ashraf, Advisor, Reproductive Health in Emergencies, Save the Children

Dr. Stephanie Kayden, ‎Chief, Division of International Emergency Medicine and Humanitarian Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Director, Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Samer Saliba, Urban Technical Specialist, International Rescue Committee

Alicia Wilson, Executive Director, La Clínica del Pueblo


Mary Nell Wegner, Exceutive Director, Maternal Health Task Force


Roger-Mark De Souza, Director, Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience, Wilson Center