Technical Meeting to Examine Provision of Reproductive Health Care to Refugees. November 02

United Nations Population Fund
Contact: in New York:
Alex Marshall
Fax: (212) 557-6416

in Rennes:
Corrie Shanahan
Tel: +33 2 99 02 2715
Fax: +33 2 99 02 2649

William A. Ryan

The ICPD+5 review process

New York, 30 October 1998 -- Protecting the reproductive health of refugees will be the focus
of an international meeting organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Rennes,
France, from 3-5 November. Experts from the world’s leading relief organizations will assess
progress in meeting the reproductive health needs of people displaced by war and disaster, including
pregnant women and victims of rape.

Over 50 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes as a result of war, civil
strife, famine or persecution. About 25 per cent of the displaced are women of reproductive age,
15-45 years; of these, one in five is likely to be pregnant at any one time. Pregnant refugees are
often at risk of malnourishment, violence and infectious diseases, and face hazardous conditions
when giving birth.

Rape by soldiers, paramilitary forces and members of organized mobs has been used as a
premeditated act of war to terrorize civilian populations, as happened recently in Bosnia and
Rwanda. But the vulnerable position of refugee women and children puts them all at heightened risk
of rape and sexual violence.

The breakdown in family ties in crises often leads to increased unprotected sexual activity, especially
among young persons, raising the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
including HIV/AIDS. Methods of family planning including emergency contraception are not always
available. As a result, many women resort to unsafe abortions.

The Technical Meeting on Reproductive Health Services in Crisis Situations will address all of these
issues in the context of providing reproductive health care in refugee camps. Participants will
examine how far the world has come towards achieving the emergency-related objectives endorsed
by 179 countries at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in
Cairo, which called for comprehensive reproductive health care for all, including displaced persons.

The meeting is part of "ICPD+5", a series of conferences and workshops to review progress since
the Cairo conference, culminating in an international forum in The Hague from 8-12 February 1999,
and a 30 June-2 July 1999 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The meeting at the National School of Public Health in Rennes will involve experts from UNFPA,
the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization,
the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and non-governmental
organizations, with varied experience working with refugees in places like Africa’s Great Lakes
region, Bosnia and Afghanistan. They will identify lessons learned and constraints in meeting
refugees’ reproductive health needs, including:

Family planning counselling, information and clinical services;
Safe motherhood including prenatal care, safe delivery care and referral for women with obstetric complications, and post-natal care;
Treatment of abortion-related complications;
Prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS;

Prevention of sexual violence and management of its consequences, including the provision of emergency contraception.

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