UNSOM commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia  Michael Keating paid tribute to the victims and survivors of sexual violence in the country as part of today’s worldwide commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

 

The day is being observed this year under the theme “Preventing Sexual Violence Crimes through Justice and Deterrence.” To raise awareness of the need to halt conflict-related sexual violence, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia is supporting an event that will be held today in the Mogadishu offices of HINNA, a local civil society organization that provides support services to victims of sexual violence.

 

Sexual violence in Somalia disproportionately affects IDPs and individuals belonging to minority clans who have little or no access to formal and informal justice systems and cannot rely on their own marginalized clans for protection.

 

The problem has been exacerbated by the sharp increase in the number of IDPs in Somalia who have recently moved into urban areas in response to the country’s ongoing drought crisis. An estimated 739,000 people have abandoned their rural homes in search of food and water since November 2016, and the incidence of sexual violence is especially high in some makeshift IDP settlements.

 

“Conflict-related sexual violence incidents constitute grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and it is deplorable that these crimes continue to be widespread in parts of Somalia,” said Mr. Keating.

 

“Women and girls need protection, and effective measures must be implemented to end the impunity of the perpetrators of such crimes by holding them accountable under Somali laws. We honour the memories of those Somalis who have sacrificed their lives in the commendable campaign to eradicate these crimes.”

 

According to information received by the United Nations, 7,324 new gender-based violence incidents were reported in Somalia last year. Nearly all of the survivors were female, and 74 per cent of them were living in IDP camps when they were attacked.

 

The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict also highlights the importance of providing survivors of sexual violence with timely assistance and access to medical support, legal aid, psycho-social support and economic support to promote the victims’ rehabilitation and combat efforts to stigmatize them within their communities.

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