Statement

UNFPA calls for urgent action to protect the rights of women and girls affected by the war in Ukraine

08 Apr 2022

Statement of UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem

“UNFPA is alarmed and deeply concerned about ongoing reports of rape and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV) in Ukraine. UNFPA is leading efforts in Ukraine to protect women and girls from multiple forms of gender-based violence, coordinating efforts with UN agencies, international and local partners.  Our priority remains to prevent gender-based violence and to ensure that survivors receive the specialized health, psychosocial, financial, legal and other support they need during the current crisis and beyond. 

“Women and children, the vast majority of the 11.3 million people who have fled their homes, face increased risks to their health and safety as access to health and social services declines. There are reports of intimate partner violence; sexual violence, exploitation and abuse; and sexual harassment, along with a high risk of trafficking at borders. 

“Rape and other forms of sexual violence are serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and can constitute war crimes.  UNFPA calls for the urgent investigation of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence and for the prioritization and funding of protection and life-saving services for women and girls. 

“Since the start of the conflict, UNFPA and partners, including national partners, have reached more than 1 million people, mostly women, with information about protection from gender-based violence and about the availability of sexual and reproductive health services and psychological support. 

“UNFPA is delivering life-saving services in Ukraine, including 13 metric tons of reproductive health supplies, medicines and equipment distributed to hospitals and mobile teams in Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Zaporizhzhia. We are supporting dozens of safe spaces, shelters and crisis rooms, and delivering dignity kits containing sanitary and hygiene items to women in need.  But much more support is needed.

“There can be no tolerance for rape and other forms of sexual violence and no impunity for the perpetrators. Together we must seek accountability and justice, and ensure that women’s and girls’ rights, including their right to health and to live free from violence, remain at the center of the humanitarian response.”

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