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Refugees International welcomed the publication today of a practical “inventory” document that details actions UN peacekeepers can take to deter perpetrators and assist survivors of sexual violence. Despite increased attention, rates of sexual violence in places like Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo where peacekeeping forces are deployed show no signs of abating.
“Most peacekeepers we talk to have a sincere desire to protect people from harm, but they lack both the knowledge and guidance on how to respond when faced with a situation where women are threatened with sexual violence,” said Refugees International senior advocate Melanie Teff.
The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), on behalf of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, have produced the inventory to outline best practices such as: ways that peacekeepers can adapt their patrols to make them more effective in preventing attacks on women; use of community alarm systems; enhancing women’s participation in community safety; and, ensuring that survivors of sexual violence are referred for medical and other assistance.
“We applaud the effort and intent behind this new publication, but it will make little difference to civilians in conflict zones if peacekeepers are not trained on its content,” said Teff. “Current training for peacekeepers on how to prevent and respond to sexual violence is inadequate. It is too theoretical and does not help peacekeepers know what to do when faced with a crisis situation.” On its recent mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo Refugees International met with local women’s groups in conflict-affected areas who related that even when medical care is available, rape survivors often tell them there is no point in accessing it because they have to go back to the fields and so they will only be raped again.
Often UN peacekeepers are the only people communities can turn to when they fear an attack or after they have suffered sexual violence. “Peacekeepers must receive practical training on how to maximize their role to prevent such attacks and help survivors get to services to assist them,” stated Teff. “Refugees International calls on DPKO and UNIFEM to work speedily to translate its new ‘inventory’ publication into scenario-based training for peacekeepers that will improve their performance in preventing and responding to sexual violence.”
See the UN document here
Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. www.refugeesinternational.org
For Immediate Release: June 30, 2010
Contact: Refugees International, Ann Brown
P: 202-828-0110 x214; C: 301-633-4193