UNHCR calls for funds to fight gender-based violence against refugees

Women march at a protest against sexual violence in Montrèal, Canada Women march at a protest against sexual violence in Montrèal, Canada © Mèlodie Descoubes on Unsplash

On the international day against gender-based violence, UNHCR highlights the importance of local projects to protect women from violence everywhere

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated annually on 25 November, and aims to spark action against gender-based violence (GBV), which has been defined as a ‘global crisis’ by the UN. This year, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, underlined a surge in violence against refugees, displaced and stateless women and girls in at least 27 countries, especially in Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. The data collected by the UNHCR show that, since March 2021, there has been a global surge in domestic violence, child marriages, trafficking and sexual exploitation globally. This increase is caused by the ongoing pandemic which exacerbated situations of poverty and economic duress,  wide-spread in displaced communities. To tackle the problem, the UN High Commissioner highlighted the role of grassroots projects helping victims of GBV, which should receive additional funding.

A prominent example of these local projects is the Myanmar Ethnic Women(’s) Refugee Organization. By sharing their experiences of abuse, refugee women support and help each other. Another example of a refugee-led project is the establishment of safe houses at the Thai-Myanmar border, where survivors of GBV can receive support. As international agencies are often unable to deliver tailored support services for refugee communities due to the pandemic, the role of local initiatives is as important as ever. Although their number is increasing, they cannot function without additional funding for project implementation.

To this end, Filippo Grandi, has called for scaling up the funding towards these humanitarian programmes: a call to action which is in line with the institution-wide policy on GBV prevention, risk mitigation and response, that was launched in October by the UNHCR.


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Author: Martina Apicella; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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