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Reproductive Health

What We Do
© UNHCR/N.Behring

The UN refugee agency places great importance on providing good quality reproductive health services to refugee populations. These services should respect the refugees' various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds while conforming to universally recognized international human rights standards.

UNHCR's sister organization, the World Health Organization, defines reproductive health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being - and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity - in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. People in good reproductive health, including the forcibly displaced, are not only able to have a satisfying and safe sex life but also to have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.

Access to quality reproductive health services, including adequate emergency obstetric care, can drastically reduce the number of women who die during or after child birth and ensure that mothers and their children enjoy a healthy life. Reproductive health education for adults and young people is also important, helping to raise awareness about, among other things, maternal health; family planning; the fall-out from sexual violence; female genital mutilation; sexually transmitted diseases; and HIV.

Tremendous progress has been made in recent years in the provision of reproductive health care to refugees in camps as well as urban areas. But UNHCR believes more needs to be done and that reproductive health services for the forcibly displaced need to be increased and strengthened.