Cyclone Idai: 15 000 women, girls at risk of sexual abuse – UN

At least 15 000 women and girls in areas affected by the Cyclone Idai, are at risk of gender-based violence (GBV), the latest report from the office of the UN Resident Coordinator has noted.

The report, which was released on 17 April, a month after the devastating tropical storm ravaged parts of Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East, said there was need for high-level advocacy to address the presence of armed troops next to affected populations.

“High-level advocacy to address the presence of armed troops next to affected populations and the potential for their involvement in the humanitarian response, increasing the risk of violence including sexual or gender-based violence especially for girls and women,” the report reads in part.

Zimbabwe’s military last month took over control of the distribution of food in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts after an outcry over the partisan allocation of aid.  However, there are reports that the deployed soldiers are demanding sexual favours from the affected women.

The UN said psycho-social support and GBV sensitisation continued to be provided to the vulnerable women and girls.

“One case of sexual violence was reported of a 14-year-old girl in Chimanimani; a referral was made to DSW (District Social Worker) and Childline for appropriate CP support services,” the UN said.

It added:  “About 3,000 temporary humanitarian workers need sensitisation on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA), and many may need psycho-social support (PSS) to be effective despite their own traumatic experiences.”

The UN said psychological distress among affected children was under-addressed.

“Numbers of affected children, are expected to increase as new areas or wards become accessible.  While most of separated children identified have been reunified with their extended families or in temporary care arrangement through foster families, the situation of separated and unaccompanied children is still fragile and the risk of secondary separation is high,” it said.


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