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UN Project To Prevent Rape In Refugee Camps

UN Agency Launches New Project To Prevent Rape In Refugee Camps


Although the incidence of rape in refugee camps in Kenya has dropped drastically, the United Nations refugee agency and its partners in the East African country have launched a project to strengthen existing actions to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.

“Quite serious violations of the safety, security and dignity of refugees have occurred in many refugee programmes in the past,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees country representative George Okoth-Obbo said in launching the Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Kenya Refugee Programme last week.

“It is an irony that refugees have fled their homes because they could not find safety, yet they arrive in asylum to find equally acute forms of danger, fear and anxiety.”

He acknowledged that sexual and gender-based violence could happen in any refugee setting where the beneficiaries are vulnerable and rely on external parties to provide assistance and protection, noting that the new project is one of a series of steps taken “towards implicit and sustained ethical rectitude in the discharge of our responsibilities to our beneficiaries.”

The project seeks to standardize the process of reporting and investigation when cases of abuse or exploitation arise. Representatives of the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), refugees and host communities are currently being trained in interview techniques and complaint investigation.

In addition, educational materials and videos are being produced and distributed so that refugees and other beneficiaries of the Kenya programme can learn more about their rights, entitlements, and the zero tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse.

Kenya hosts some 240,000 refugees in Kakuma camp in the northwest and Dadaab camp in the east. In the first years of the influxes into Kenya that started in 1991, the rape of women and girls by bandits, thugs and other criminals occurred with shocking frequency and magnitude, according to UNHCR.

Today, through the sustained interventions of the government law enforcement agencies and the work of UN agencies and NGOs in Kenya, rape has been reduced drastically. In Dadaab for example, rape incidents dropped to 16 last year, down from 1,500.

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