UNFPAUNFPA Annual Report 2000
Back to Main Menu

Uprooted and adrift, often with nothing but the belongings they can carry, women and children make up 80 per cent of the world's displaced persons and refugees. Whether fleeing armed conflict or chest-high floods, these women and children need help, and they need it fast. Food, water, shelter and health care, including reproductive health care, are priorities. In the midst of conflict or disaster, women need prenatal, post-natal and delivery care. Without skilled help and basic equipment, giving birth can be a matter of life and death.

Displaced pregnant women are at risk of malnourishment, violence and infectious disease, and face hazardous conditions. Another threat is sexual violence – women and girls who are forced from their homes face much higher risks of sexual violence and exploitation. HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases present yet another danger because they spread quickly through the corridors of conflict and chaos.


Since 1994, UNFPA has supported emergency reproductive health projects in more than 30 countries. UNFPA is a founding member of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health for Refugees, which developed standards for a minimal initial service package (MISP) for meeting basic needs in emergency situations and then created pre-packaged sets of equipment, supplies and medicines to meet those needs. UNFPA stocks and manages these emergency reproductive health kits, which are stored in a warehouse in Amsterdam for quickest dispatch. Separate kits include the equipment and supplies needed to prevent and manage the consequences of sexual violence, reduce HIV transmission, provide safe deliveries, treat miscarriages and unsafe abortions, provide safe blood transfusions and support family planning. Some kits have enough supplies to serve 10,000 people for three months while others can contain goods to support clinical services for up to 150,000 people for six months.



This Ocussi hospital, like virtually every medical facility in East Timor, was heavily damaged.  The devastation of the nation's health care infrastructure prompted UNFPA to provide equipment, supplies and medicines to serve the basic reproductive health needs of the population in 2000. 

Photo: UFNPA/ Pamela DeLargy



UNFPA dispatched an unprecedented 35 shipments of emergency reproductive health kits in 2000 to 20 countries and territories. When devastating floods and mudslides hit Venezuela,  UNFPA sent safe delivery and family planning kits to help 150,000 people. When Cyclone Eline struck Zimbabwe, we dispatched more than six tons of life-saving supplies to assist some 200,000 people. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, where maternal mortality rates are the highest in the world, we provided support to save lives, treat victims of sexual violence and fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. In East Timor, where virtually every single medical facility had been damaged or destroyed, we worked with NGOs to distribute individual kits for safe home delivery to pregnant women and also equipment and supplies for clinical delivery support in each province. 

In 2000, UNFPA collaborated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Reproductive Health for Refugees Consortium – a group of six prominent international NGOs – to strengthen emergency reproductive health services worldwide. Together with local partners, we are working to integrate such care into emergency relief operations. We conducted a regional advocacy workshop in Nepal in March 2000 to raise awareness of the need for emergency reproductive health care and to consolidate support for such services.