INTER-AGENCY WORKING GROUP – Inter-Agency Field Manual for Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings 2018

In 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that the global forcibly displaced population exceeded 65 million for the first time in history. This included over 21 million refugees, 40 million internally displaced persons, and more than 3 million asylum seekers. Of those needing humanitarian assistance, approximately 1 in 4 are women and girls of reproductive age. Large populations are still forced to spend decades away from their homes in refugee camps, internally displaced person settlements, or urban settings unfamiliar to them, due to ongoing conflict or as a result of a natural disaster. The average length of displacement for refugees is 17 years. Many persons affected by these chronic emergencies are highly vulnerable to life-threatening sexual and reproductive ill-health.

This updated 272-page manual is the result of a two-and-a-half-year collaborative process. The revised manual not only provides updated technical guidance from normative bodies, but clarifies and strengthens human rights language, responds to IAWG evaluations, and addresses feedback from field practitioners.

Women and girls in humanitarian settings may be at increased risk of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion and require access to safe abortion care:

  • Women and girls may not be able to continue with their contraceptive method because they lost it during displacement and/or lack access to contraceptive services
  • Women and girls may want to delay childbearing until their security and livelihoods are assured, but may not have access to contraceptives due to disruptions in health services and supplies
  • Many girls reach reproductive age while displaced
  • Rape and other forms of sexual violence are often documented in conflict settings.

The chapter on safe abortion care and post-abortion care provides SRH Coordinators, health program managers, and service providers with:

  • Programming information on comprehensive abortion care and provision of or referral to such services
  • Basic clinical information to guide service delivery
  • A framework to obtain accurate information and understand the administrative and regulatory context related to abortion in the setting where they are working
  • An understanding of the social, cultural, and religious norms surrounding safe abortion care
  • Tools to educate communities on their rights and policymakers on their duties.

You can find the Field Manual here in PDF form or at its temporary home on the IAWG website, while they build a new online platform to house the manual and all its complementary resources. Printing is underway and hard copies of the manual will be available in the coming months. Announcements about hard copy availability, training materials, complementary resources, and advocacy tools are forthcoming.