The famine sweeping the Horn of Africa right now is the worst that has struck the region in 60 years. As millions of starving, desperate Somali women and children make the long journey to overcrowded Kenyan refugee camps, they face yet another danger - sexual assault.
Margot Wallstrom, the United Nations (UN) Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, explained, "Once the women cross the Somalia-Kenya border or reach Dadaab - the world's largest refugee settlement - their hopes of finding a safe haven are often overshadowed by new dangers and hardships," she asserts, "including the risk of rape."
International aid organizations need to more effectively manage camps to minimize sexual assault in the first place. Sign this petition to pressure the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to instate security regulations, set up rape support services, and create temporary emergency housing for the most vulnerable women.
I am writing regarding the high rates of sexual assault among Somali women in Kenyan refugee camps, as reported by Margot Wallstrom, the United Nations (UN) Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The situation is Somalia has been spiraling out of control for sometime now, and humanitarian aid groups have been doing all they can to provide food, shelter, and medical care to the tens of thousands of emaciated refugees streaming into camps like Dadaab. However, on top of starvation and brutality, these desperate women and children face another, less publicized danger - sexual assault.
While fleeing to Kenya,women are often assaulted by armed gangs and bandits. In the camps, which are overflowing and poorly governed, many women are forced to place themselves in vulnerable situations in order to care for themselves and their children. Some of the most high-risk situations include taking children to the bathroom at night and leaving shelter to collect firewood or search for food. The thousands of families huddled on the outskirts are especially vulnerable.
On behalf of women everywhere, I urge the UNHCR to create greater security within these camps by instating regulations, setting up rape support services, and setting up temporary emergency housing for the most vulnerable women.
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