Undocumented migrants who are victims of domestic violence are often excluded from protection schemes | Photo: Picture-alliance
Undocumented migrants who are victims of domestic violence are often excluded from protection schemes | Photo: Picture-alliance

The UN refugee agency has called for more support to address violence against women and girls who have been displaced. There has been surge in violence against female refugees amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNHCR.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said that "we call on national and local authorities to do more to protect the rights of refugee, internally displaced and stateless women and girls" in a statement released on Thursday (November 25).

According to Grandi, "one in five refugee or internally displaced women have faced sexual violence." The UNHCR chief added that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation had worsened significantly.

Surge in gender-based violence amid coronavirus pandemic

"From Afghanistan, Colombia, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and beyond, the deleterious impact of conflict, COVID-19 and displacement has been felt acutely by women and girls," said Grandi. "Since March last year, we have reported a global surge in domestic violence, child marriages, trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse as a result of the pandemic. Some hard-won gains in advancing gender equality have also been eroded".

Grandi called on countries worldwide to do more to fight gender-based violence and to include refugees in their plans to address the problem.

'Displaced and stateless people must be included'

"Forcibly displaced and stateless people must also be included in all national responses to gender-based violence. Survivors must be supported to heal and recover, and perpetrators must be brought to justice," said the UN commissioner.

Grandi also called for more funding for humanitarian programs that combat gender-based violence, including empowerment projects and services that help survivors. "Support must especially be channeled to those who work on the front lines -- including displaced women-led organizations and groups. Ending gender-based violence requires action to match rhetoric," Grandi said.

 

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