Globally, millions of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have left their homes due to conflicts, wars, and natural disasters. Forced displacement, exposure to violence and poverty, and separation from families and communities expose refugees and IDPs to extraordinary difficulties, including increased risk of rape and other gender-based violence. Women and adolescents are vulnerable to sexual abuse committed by combatants, as well as by men wielding power in the refugee, host-country, and even humanitarian communities.
To make matters worse, women in conflict settings often do not have access to regular family planning methods to protect against unwanted pregnancies. For these women and girls, access to EC is a critical need. Access to EC can help these women and girls to maintain control over their fertility during these otherwise extremely difficult, unpredictable circumstances.
Moreover, the especially harsh living conditions to which displaced women are exposed make delivering a child even more difficult and life threatening. Refugee and IDP women who are not granted access to EC may be forced to experience an unwanted pregnancy and may, as a result, suffer or die from childbirth or abortion-related complications. EC provides women and girls with the opportunity to avoid unplanned or forced pregnancies and can reduce the risk of death or illness due to complications from childbirth or unsafe abortion.
To learn more about improving access to EC in crisis settings, please see the following resources:
The Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health, developed by the Inter-Agency Working Group for Reproductive Health in Refugee Situations (IAWG).
UNFPA’s prepackaged supply kits for emergency situations: The New Emergency Health Kit (NEHK) and the complementary Inter-Agency Reproductive Health Kits for Crisis Situations.
Emergency Contraception for Conflict Affected Settings: A Reproductive Health Response in Crises Consortium Distance Learning Module, available in English, Français, Español, Português, پښتو, and Burmese, developed by the Women’s Refugee Commission.
For more resources related to this issue, see ICEC’s Emergency Contraception for Crisis Settings: Key Resources as well as ICEC and the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises’s Emergency Contraceptive Pills: Fast Facts for Decision-Makers and Program Managers in Crisis-Affected Settings and Emergency Contraceptive Pills: Fast Facts for Health Care Providers in Crisis Settings.