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Adolescent Refugees and Migrants: A Reproductive Health Emergency

According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 190 million people who have migrated, whether willingly or under duress. The number of people on the move has more than doubled since 1975 as people leave their communities in times of war, conflict, or natural disaster, or in search of jobs and opportunities. In fact, some estimate that as many as two billion people could be considered migrants, which would include Internally Displaced Persons, refugees, rural-urban migrants, market traders, seasonal workers, clandestine migrants, and tourists. Significantly, the pace of rural to urban  migration has dramatically increased, especially in Africa and Asia. Local and national governments are often ill-equipped to deal with disasters and/or steady urbanization, and as a result, many refugees and migrants end up in poorly equipped and serviced squatter settlements, slums, and camps.

The reproductive health of young people has been identified as a serious concern and a challenge for policy makers and programmers around the world. Young refugees and migrants have the same developmental needs common to all young people, but their needs are significantly affected by displacement from their homes and separation from the structure and guidance of their families. The new environments in which they find themselves are often violent, stressful, and unhealthy places to live.

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