Over the past few days, the world has watched in horror and disbelief at the events unfolding in Ukraine. It is estimated that over 500,000 people have now fled – many of whom are women and children – into neighbouring countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania. The UN anticipates 4 million refugees by July 2022.
During Humanitarian crises, sexual and reproductive healthcare is often overlooked. But the reality is daily sexual and reproductive healthcare needs such as essential care for pregnant people, access to menstruation products for people who menstruate, as well as ensuring people who need sexual and reproductive health assistance have access to the right information, remains an urgent priority.
IPPF is working with partners on the ground in Poland to link those fleeing the conflict with critical sexual and reproductive health services as well as provide them with essential items.
Julie Taft, Director of Humanitarian for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said
"As we mark one week since the invasion of Ukraine, the complex humanitarian situation has become even more apparent. Right now, millions across the country are fighting for their survival, while food, medical supplies and essential hygiene products run dangerously low, including equipment needed to provide life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare. The destruction of healthcare infrastructure also means that women are forced to deliver their babies in bomb shelters. At the same time, sick and vulnerable new-borns must receive care in the basements of hospitals.
"In response to the growing humanitarian crisis, the International Planned Parenthood Federation has partnered with the All-Poland's Women's Strike, a Polish women's rights movement currently supporting people displaced by the war. The $50,000 USD grant will go towards dignity kits, consisting of basic hygiene supplies, menstrual-hygiene products, blankets, food, diapers and baby clothes. Items will be distributed to Ukrainians who have fled into Poland as well as transported cross-border into Ukraine. The funds will also support the All-Poland's women's strike to link refugees who have crossed the Ukraine-Poland border with essential healthcare services.
"IPPF is proud to partner with such a brave and unyielding organisation on the frontline and will continue to work closely with other NGOs to facilitate care for those who need it most. However, NGOs cannot operate efficiently without the support of the international community, which must guarantee the safe passage of humanitarian aid into Ukraine. The urgent need for unhindered humanitarian access is especially significant for unaccompanied minors and those left behind, who are often the most vulnerable populations and who will require distinct care during this tragic situation."
Marta Lempart, Founder of the All-Poland Women's Strike, said:
"We are deeply committed to helping displaced people flee the invasion of our neighbour, Ukraine. Our teams across Poland are working around the clock to support vulnerable people crossing both at the border, including unaccompanied minors at-risk of trafficking and those left behind or heading back to Ukraine. Both groups will require personalised care and support.
"We are pleased to partner with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, so we can continue delivering dignity kits to those who need them most; for displaced people arriving with just the clothes on their back, access to even simple necessities are a lifeline. We are also thankful for the outpouring of support from across Europe - the funding will help care for exhausted families who have made it safely across the border, covering transport, rent, bills and other expenses as they begin to build their futures outside of Ukraine.
"Disasters reinforce, perpetuate, and increase existing inequalities, making bad situations even more tragic and resulting in consequences that will carry down for generations. But with the international community's support, we can ensure that organisations like Women's Strike and IPPF are there for people every step of the way."