The situation in Ukraine and other conflicts are expected to drive the "staggering" number of unintended pregnancies even higher as sexual violence increases and contraception access is disrupted, a UN report says.
Nearly half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended, the UN reproductive health agency has said, warning that the Ukraine conflict could further exacerbate what it called a "human rights crisis".
Out of 121 million unintended pregnancies every year — 331,000 a day — more than 60 percent end in abortion, almost half of them unsafe, the United Nations Population Fund said in a new report.
The UNFPA said the report was not about "unwanted babies or happy accidents".
Rather, it showed how a combination of gender inequality, poverty, sexual violence and lack of access to contraception and abortion robbed women of "the most life-altering reproductive choice — whether or not to become pregnant".
The situation in Ukraine and other conflicts are expected to drive the "staggering" number of unintended pregnancies even higher as sexual violence increases and contraception access is disrupted, the report said.
READ MORE: What is it like to be pregnant amid a global pandemic?
"We have heard stories from pregnant women who knew that nutritionally they weren't going to be able to support their pregnancy" in Ukraine, UNFPA executive director Natalia Kanem said.
"There are also predators and traffickers and examples of people who are seeing the tragedy of war as an opportunity to target women and girls," she told AFP.
She said studies estimated that more than 20 percent of displaced women worldwide experience sexual violence — "and I would bet that is under-reported because there is so much stigma around the issue".
While figures are still sparse a month into Russia's Ukraine assault, she said the conflict in Afghanistan was expected to lead to 4.8 million unintended pregnancies by 2025.
And the Covid-19 crisis has also hugely disrupted healthcare and contraceptive supplies, leading to up to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies in the first year of the pandemic alone, the UNFPA said.
The UNFPA's annual State of World Population report said seven million women had to be hospitalised each year after unsafe abortions, which are one of the leading causes of maternal death.
The UNFPA report was built on new data analysing unintended pregnancy and abortion rates in 150 countries between 2015 and 2019 from the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion rights.
READ MORE: On Int'l Women’s Day, remember the victims of sexual violence in wartime