During natural disasters, conflicts, and other emergencies, the reproductive health needs of youth are often unmet. Of the nearly 100 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the world, 26 million are women or adolescent girls of reproductive age. Natural and man-made emergencies can disrupt the family, social, and economic structures that young people depend on, placing them at risk of poverty, violence, sexual exploitation, and abuse. In situations where education and health services are lacking or have been suspended, young people are left without access to reproductive health (RH) information and services, yet in these circumstances, they face higher RH risks like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV infection, unwanted pregnancy, and unsafe abortion.

RH services for young people during emergency situations must be innovative, accessible, and culturally appropriate. Young people should be involved in the development, implementation, and monitoring of program activities to ensure that they are responsive to the specific needs of young people. Including both boys and girls in educational activities that promote gender equity can reduce gender-based violence and high-risk sexual behavior in times of peace and in times of conflict. More research is needed to determine how to meet the health needs of young people in humanitarian situations most effectively.

State of the World’s Population: Shelter from the Storm: A Transformative Agenda for Women and Girls in a Crisis-prone World

This comprehensive report outlines the key risks for individuals impacted by a humanitarian crisis—including those risks specific to women and young girls—as well as the type of responses needed, including family planning services.  The report focuses on determinants and areas of resilience during these crises and ends with ideas for moving forward (2015). 

Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Humanitarian Settings: An In-depth Look at Family Planning Services

This joint report catalogs the results of a year-long study to map adolescent reproductive health programs in areas affected by conflict, documents good practices, and provides recommendations to improve access to quality reproductive health care for adolescents in humanitarian settings (2012). 

Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Toolkit for Humanitarian Settings

This toolkit for humanitarian program managers and health care providers offers tools for assessing the effects of a crisis on adolescents, implementing a youth-friendly Minimum Initial Service Package, and ensuring that adolescents can participate in program development and implementation. This publication is a companion to the Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings (2009).

Forced Migration Review: Being Young and Out of Place

This report examines the stresses of ‘being young and out of place.’ It explores young people’s needs and coping strategies, and asks why relatively little attention is paid to their rights and needs. It also includes articles on other subjects such as national policies in Afghanistan and Nigeria, resettlement in Argentina, mental health in Lebanese camps and why some issues make it onto the international agenda while others do not (2012).

Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in War and Its Aftermath: Realities, Responses, and Required Resources

This briefing paper examines sexual violence against women and children affected by conflict; provides an overview of existing resources and programming; and assesses progress and lessons learned (2006).

Children and Armed Conflict: A Guide to International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

This guide outlines the standards and principles that guarantee the fundamental rights of children in armed conflict. Chapter 8 focuses on sexual violence against children and highlights the steps that various Conventions and Security Council resolutions have taken to address this issue (2010).

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Guidelines for Prevention and Response

This document provides guidance for designing and implementing strategies for preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence. The guidelines, which have been tested in 32 countries with the participation of more than 60 partners, also offer information on relevant health, legal, security, and human rights issues (2003).

Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings

This field manual is the product of a collaboration involving more than 100 members of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises. The content is based on World Health Organization (WHO) technical guidance and reflects best practices documented in crisis settings around the world (2010).

Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises

The Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises, comprised of UN agencies, WHO, universities, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations, promotes access to quality RH care for refugee women and others affected by armed conflict.

Women's Refugee Commission

The Women's Refugee Commission advocates for laws, policies, and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children, and young people, including those seeking asylum.

Engaging Boys and Men in GBV Prevention and Reproductive Health in Conflict and Emergency-Response Settings: A Workshop Module

This two-day participatory module is designed to build the capacity of participants working to involve boys and men in gender-based violence prevention and RH in conflict and other emergency-response settings. The module lays out a framework for discussing strategies for male engagement based on the phases of prevention and response in conflict and displacement (2008).


Adolescent Refugees and Migrants: A Reproductive Health Emergency

This publication details the specific reproductive health (RH) needs of adolescent refugees and migrants and offers programmatic responses (2008).

Silent Suffering: The Psychosocial Impact of War, HIV and Other High-risk Situations on Girls and Boys in West and Central Africa

This report highlights the situation of the thousands of children affected by violence and abuse in West and Central Africa. The publication includes an assessment of the mental health and psychosocial needs of children in this region; an analysis of the existing institutions that provide support to these children; best practices and lessons learned in the field; and recommendations for strengthening programming in the region (2009).