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Humanitarian Bulletin Southern and Eastern Africa region, Issue 03, June 2016

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Women and girls among displaced people remain at high risk of GBV in the region.
  • Conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) is the most prevalent form of GBV in humanitarian settings in eastern Africa.
  • Child marriage, rape and physical abuse are the common forms of GBV in stable environments, including southern Africa.
  • Regional WHS Commitments on gender call for end to financing gender blind programming.

Overview of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) trends in eastern and southern Africa

This month's regional bulletin outlines some key aspects of GBV in humanitarian settings in the region and highlights some promising global, regional and country-level initiatives towards addressing GBV, including through the commitments made at the just-ended World Humanitarian Summit (24-25 May); a summary of which is included in the bulletin.

GBV and Conflict Related Sexual Violence

Gender-based Violence (GBV), a fundamental violation of human rights, pervades the eastern and southern Africa region and often results in adverse economic and social consequences for men, women, their children, families, communities and States in development as well as in humanitarian settings.

The region remains prone to conflicts and natural disasters, resulting in massive displacements, livelihoods insecurity, food and water shortages, which heighten the vulnerability of girls and women to GBV, particularly rape, sexual assault, physical violence, early marriage and denial of economic resources. Sixty percent of all maternal deaths take place in humanitarian settings and all forms of gender based violence against women and girls spike during disasters and conflict. Countries in eastern Africa continue to record high rates of conflict-related sexual violence, including as a weapon of war; particularly in Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, DRC and most recently, Burundi. In southern Africa - despite being in the development phase - most countries are reporting high GBV incidents, including during natural disasters such as the current El Niño-related drought and flood conditions.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, held on 19 June globally, the UN Secretary General recognised "sexual violence is a threat to international peace and security, a serious violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, and a major impediment to post-conflict reconciliation and economic development." During the 19th June commemorations, twenty four individuals and civil society organisations in Sudan called on the Sudanese government to end the widespread sexual violence committed by its security forces and to reverse the atmosphere of impunity that fosters it Read the full statement.

According to UNHCR, in the context of the unrest in Burundi since April 2015, 323 incidents of GBV involving 264 women and 59 girls reportedly occurred either in Burundi or during flight. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) reports that on average, two to three women report being raped each week in incidents relating to collecting firewood up to 15 kilometres outside the camps in Tanzania.

In South Sudan, spikes in GBV were linked to illegal use of arms, new mass displacements, cattle raids and food insecurity.

In Sudan, new cases of sexual violence were recorded in North Darfur’s Jebel Marra; while in Somalia the majority of the cases were from IDPs. Access remains a major challenge in South Sudan, Somalia and Sudan, limiting survivor’s ability to seek timely care and support; and humanitarian actor’s ability to reach survivors and those vulnerable to GBV.

Additionally, the fear of reprisals remains a key challenge for survivors of GBV, leading to a prevalent culture of silence. Failures or delays in reporting have meant that survivors present themselves for post GBV violation after the recommended 72 hours when effective health support can be provided, or not at all. The culture of silence is not only predominant in countries in conflict in the region, but also in more stable countries. Access to justice has been constrained by impunity, deeply entrenched attitudes on gender injustices and weak institutional capacities on gender justice.

Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
24 Jun 2016
Document type: 
Humanitarian Bulletin
Theme(s): 
Climate
Conflict
Information Management
Natural Disasters
Sexual and Gender based Violence