20.06.23 (PRESS RELEASE) Geneva – Many refugee women and girls who have sought sanctuary and safety in Europe are still being denied access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and gender-based violence support services, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The consequences of such barriers are far-reaching, posing significant risks to the health and well-being of refugee women and girls. Urgent action is needed on the part of European governments and the European Union to ensure that barriers do not impede access to these critical services.
For example, sixteen months following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many refugees from Ukraine, some of whom have experienced conflict-related sexual violence and gender-based crimes, are still unable to access quality sexual and reproductive healthcare—such as emergency contraception and abortion care—and gender-based violence support in some Europe Union member states.
Findings from multi-country research published recently by a group of civil society organisations in Europe, expose serious barriers facing refugees in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia who urgently need sexual and reproductive healthcare and gender-based violence support services. Refugees from Ukraine in these countries report that legal restrictions, financial constraints and serious information deficits combine to hamper their access to care, with serious repercussions for their health and well-being. As a consequence of these obstacles, some refugees are returning to Ukraine to access essential reproductive healthcare, accessing care outside of legal pathways or going without much-needed care and support entirely, according to the report.
Action is urgently needed from decision makers across Europe to address these concerns and improve the situation, said the Center for Reproductive Rights who participated in the research and co-published the report, Care in Crisis.
“Decision makers at the national and EU level must show political leadership and act urgently to address the needs of refugees from Ukraine who need sexual and reproductive healthcare and gender-based violence support services. Without action, Europe will have failed to deliver on its promise of safety and sanctuary pledged to refugees from Ukraine. Severe barriers are jeopardising the health and well-being of refugee women and girls,” said Leah Hoctor, Senior Regional Director for Europe for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “World Refugee Day serves as a reminder to all European decision makers to use their power to take action to protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of refugees.”
The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation in February 2022 has forced more than 8 million people—mostly women and children—to seek refuge in countries throughout Europe. The invasion is continuing to bring devastating consequences for the people of Ukraine, including widespread human rights violations, gender-based crimes and conflict-related sexual violence.
Care in Crisis: Failures to guarantee the sexual and reproductive health and rights of refugees from Ukraine in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia presents the findings of multi-country fact-finding carried out between July 2022 and April 2023 by nine organisations working in Hungary, Romania, Poland Slovakia, the European region and internationally. They include: A.L.E.G (Romania), Center for Reproductive Rights, EMMA Association (Hungary), E-Romnja (Romania), FEDERA Foundation for Women and Family Planning (Poland), Feminoteka Foundation (Poland), Freedom of Choice (Slovakia), FILIA Center (Romania) and Independent Midwives Association (Romania).
Read the full report: Care in Crisis: Failures to guarantee the sexual and reproductive health and rights of refugees from Ukraine in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia | Center for Reproductive Rights
The findings outlined in the report demonstrate the impact that intersecting barriers in access to good quality sexual and reproductive healthcare and gender-based violence support are having on refugees from Ukraine in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Center for Reproductive Rights: [email protected]