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May 2008 issue on conflict and crisis settings: Promoting sexual and reproductive rights

Amsterdam, 24 June 2008 - Elsevier announced today Reproductive Health Matters' May 2008 issue on the theme of "Conflict and Crisis Settings: Promoting Sexual and Reproductive rights". Under conditions of global economic and ecological crisis as well as rampant militarism, growing numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) find themselves stripped of ordinary rights or even 'the right to have rights'. By the end of 2006, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that nearly 33 million people worldwide qualified for humanitarian assistance representing an increase of 56% from 2005. The great majority of these were IDPs who do not qualify for the rights and benefits conferred by refugee status.

Disaster has a strongly gendered dimension related to sexual and reproductive health. Camps and shelters which are intended to provide refuge often become places of violence and dehumanisation, especially for women and girls. This issue of Reproductive Health Matters attests to the great distance that remains between the official recognition of the sexual and reproductive rights of IDPs and refugees and their safeguarding on the ground.

The long-term duration of armed conflict in many countries means that IDPs and refugees may find themselves displaced for years or even decades. Conditions of unequal power, dependency, crowding, sub-standard housing and lack of privacy make rape and abuse a constant threat. The images of refugees projected by local residents, media and policy-makers as economically burdensome and morally threatening also tend to be racist and gender-biased.

Guest Editor Rosalind Petchesky draws attention to "the extraordinary energy and resilience of displaced communitiesoften under the leadership of womento survive, negotiate and rebuild and calls for "a new humanitarian paradigm that will allow the people directly affected to define their needs and find appropriate solutions during disasters, rather than having external organisations impose solutions on them".

Articles focus on Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Iraq, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Uganda and United States. Titles in this journal issue include:

  • Reproductive health: a right for refugees and internally displaced persons;
  • Legal aspects of conflict-induced migration by women;
  • Providing reproductive health care to internally displaced persons: barriers experienced by humanitarian agencies;
  • Delivering maternal health services among Internally Displaced Populations in Eastern Burma.


Contact: Minke Havelaar

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