New U.N. Report: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Must Be at Core of Humanitarian Action in Crisis Settings

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(PRESS RELEASE) A new report from the United Nations Population Fund today finds that significant gaps remain in ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in crisis settings.

The State of World Population 2015 addresses how women and girls who are displaced by or live in crisis settings are “disproportionately affected because they are disproportionately disadvantaged” in terms of access to sexual and reproductive health services and access to economic and social resources. It specifically details how a crisis can exacerbate existing inequalities and heighten women’s and girls’ risks and vulnerabilities to HIV infection, unintended and unwanted pregnancy, maternal death, gender-based violence, child marriage, rape and trafficking.

According to the new report, despite improvements in the provision of sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian settings, 507 women and adolescent girls die every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth in emergency situations and in fragile states. And gender-based violence continues to take a brutal toll, shattering lives and prospects for peace and recovery.

Said Rebecca Brown, director of global advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“The tens of millions of women and adolescent girls displaced or living in crisis settings are acutely in need of universal reproductive health services.

“The United Nations Population Fund’s report sheds much-needed light on the dire consequences that the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services has on the lives, dignity and rights of women and girls affected by disaster or conflict.

“Addressing this gap must be central not only to an effective humanitarian response and sustainable development, but also to fulfilling every country’s human rights obligation to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights –especially in humanitarian crises.”

According to State of the World 2015, more than 100 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance—more than at any time since the end of the Second World War—and, among those are nearly 25 million women and adolescent girls of reproductive age.

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