Nearly two months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the war continues to cause terrifying suffering, destruction and displacement, taking a disproportionate toll on women and girls. Women and children comprise the vast majority of the 12 million people fleeing their homes.
“Women and girls affected by the war in Ukraine face ongoing threats to their health and safety, and their needs must be prioritized,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA. “Women do not stop getting pregnant or giving birth during conflict, and their access to lifesaving health services is literally under attack in Ukraine. With health and social service facilities being bombed and shelled, and reports of rape and other forms of gender-based violence rising, UNFPA is focused on meeting the distinct needs of women and girls.”
To respond to soaring humanitarian needs in Ukraine, UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, is coordinating and bolstering life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, and protection and response services for survivors of physical and sexual violence.
More than 13 metric tons of reproductive health supplies were delivered to seven hospitals in Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Zaporizhzhya. An additional 27 tons of critical reproductive health supplies, medicines and equipment have arrived in Ukraine and will be distributed to maternity hospitals in war-torn Chernihiv, Sumy, Kherson, Mykolaiv and four more cities to meet the needs of 1.5 million people. Another 41 metric tons of reproductive health supplies are scheduled to arrive later in April and May. UNFPA is also distributing dignity kits with sanitary pads and other essential items to support women’s hygiene.
As women grapple with the threat of violence, and reports of rape and human rights violations increase, UNFPA is supporting 30 shelters, crisis rooms and daily care centres for displaced women and survivors of violence. Psychosocial mobile teams will be dispatched to 12 regions across Ukraine in the next two weeks. Staffed by psychologists and social workers, the UNFPA-supported teams will provide psychosocial support to women experiencing trauma or violence.
“Here in Ukraine, the needs are rising exponentially. We are working closely with the government and other partners to provide lifesaving services for women and girls, but much more needs to be done. We need to reach many more people, including survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. We are appealing for increased support to respond to this growing humanitarian crisis,” said Jaime Nadal Roig, UNFPA Representative in Ukraine.
In Moldova, host to some 100,000 refugees that are staying in the country, UNFPA has signed an agreement with the National Health Insurance Company to guarantee refugees, including women who are pregnant or have given birth, access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care. This includes critical maternal health services, such as caesarean sections to save the lives of women and newborns.
UNFPA recently delivered 10 tons of reproductive health supplies to Moldova, including for the management of obstetric emergencies, to hospitals and 41 youth-friendly health centers in the capital Chisinau and to every district of the country. To ensure women living in host families can continue to access life-saving health services, UNFPA-supported service centers across the country are being expanded with “Orange Safe Spaces” to provide family planning and counseling and referrals for refugees traumatized by the war. The referral system for survivors of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, has been developed based on existing national systems and services in collaboration with the authorities and NGOs specialized in health, legal, and social services, as well as law enforcement bodies.
“UNFPA is working with the Government of Moldova and partners to support refugees from Ukraine,” said Nigina Abaszada, UNFPA Representative in Moldova. “It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of women who fled so quickly with so little, and fear for their future and their families. UNFPA supports the government in strengthening the public health system to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girl refugees and host communities and ensure uninterrupted access to needed health and gender-based violence services.”
As part of the United Nations led appeal for Ukraine and the regional refugee response plan, UNFPA seeks $65.6 million to meet the needs of vulnerable people, including women and girls, older people and people with disabilities, in Ukraine and in neighboring countries. UNFPA thanks all governments that have provided support for the health and protection of women and girls.