Head of UN in Somalia Marks International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
Mogadishu – The Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, paid tribute to the victims and survivors of sexual violence in the country as part of today’s worldwide commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The day is being observed in Somalia this year under the theme, “Stand with rape survivors, fulfil their rights”, to stress the importance of a survivor-centered approach to sexual violence in conflict. This approach seeks to empower survivors by emphasizing their needs and rights of access to appropriate medical treatment, psychosocial support, legal aid and livelihood support, among other services.
To raise awareness of the need to halt conflict-related sexual violence, UNSOM is supporting an event in Mogadishu organized by a coalition of civil society organizations dedicated to human rights and the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence. The event will feature a panel discussion during which participants–including representatives of internally displaced persons and traditional elders–will address questions about the basic services available to survivors of sexual violence in conflict and ways to improve the delivery of those services to such survivors, with dignity and efficiency.
The Federal Government of Somalia has prioritized key measures to eliminate sexual violence in conflict through the implementation of the National Action Plan to address the issue, and last year the Council of Ministers approved the landmark Sexual Offences Bill, which will serve as an important safeguard for human rights. It is currently awaiting consideration by the Federal Parliament. Additionally, in partnership with Somali authorities, civil society organizations and the UN Development Programme, UNICEF, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the UN Population Fund have made significant progress in supporting survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to access basic and life-saving services.
“I pay tribute to the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and also to those civil society groups who provide the indispensable services needed by those survivors to overcome their traumatic experiences,” said Mr. Zenenga. “We need to hear their voices and help them to heal their wounds, and let us reaffirm our commitment to eliminate the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence in our lifetimes. I also urge Somalia’s Federal Parliament to expedite passage of the Sexual Offenses Bill.”