One-fourth of all refugees, displaced persons, and disaster victims are women and girls of reproductive age. They need more than food, water, and shelter; they need the ability to determine whether or not they get pregnant.

For women living in refugee camps, an unintended pregnancy adds unimaginable complications to what is already a desperate situation. It’s also highly dangerous: The rate of women who die or suffer grave injury while giving birth in crisis settings is almost double the world average. In an environment of heightened sexual violence, risky childbirth, inadequate medical care, and uncertain futures, contraception is an essential lifesaving intervention.


Of the 225 million women worldwide with an unmet need for family planning, a significant number are in refugee camps, conflict areas, or disaster zones. Bringing the humanitarian and development communities together in new ways is critical to meet this challenge – especially now, at a time when the political support and financial resources for global aid are threatened.

Despite myths to the contrary, demand for contraception in crisis settings is high: Women and couples who are displaced frequently say that they wish to prevent pregnancy.

And when contraceptives are made available, the rate of uptake is brisk. Just like food, water, and shelter, contraception must be part of the minimum humanitarian response.

One of the things we’ll be talking about is how to expand on the variety of contraceptive methods that are available in humanitarian settings. Pills and condoms aren’t enough; women need a range of options to find the method that works for them. Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as IUDs and implants, are an important part of the mix. LARCs are 20 times more effective than contraceptive pills and can be provided even in the immediate postpartum period – no waiting necessary.

Another priority is ensuring access to emergency contraception from the outset of a crisis. Emergency contraception is essential in light of the high rates of sexual violence in crisis settings; it also provides a fail-safe when other forms of contraception are unavailable. Having it pre-positioned so that it’s available for women who are fleeing violence – and there for women facing life in a temporary camp – will bridge a huge gap.

Integrating family planning with humanitarian aid also makes sense from a development perspective. The working environment in many countries is complex, with a combination of urgent humanitarian needs and ongoing development challenges. But thoughtful, strategic partnerships across sectors can go a long way. A crisis situation can be a chance to reach remote or marginalized populations with family planning services for the first time, thus laying the groundwork for more comprehensive reproductive health services once the crisis is past.

Read the source article at United Nations Foundation