Refugee women facing greater violence risk during coronavirus crisis - UNHCR

Geneva – Displaced women and girls are facing a heightened risk of gender-based violence during the coronavirus crisis, the UN Refugee Agency said on Monday.

The UNHCR said they may be forced into "survival sex" or child marriages.

Lockdowns imposed to control the spread of Covid-19 have restricted movement and led to the closure of services.

"We need to pay urgent attention to the protection of refugee, displaced and stateless women and girls at the time of this pandemic," said Gillian Triggs, the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for protection.

"They are among those most at-risk. Doors should not be left open for abusers and no help spared for women surviving abuse and violence."

Limited access to support services

She said displaced women could end up confined with their abusers, while others, having lost their precarious livelihoods, "may be forced into survival sex, or child marriages by their families", said Triggs.

The restrictions imposed in many countries in response to the coronavirus pandemic mean limited access to support services, said the UNHCR.

It said some safe shelters had been temporarily suspended.

To counter the risk, the UNHCR is distributing emergency cash to survivors and women deemed to be at risk of gender-based violence.

Triggs said governments should ensure that the "rising risks of violence" for displaced women are taken into account in their Covid-19 action plans.

One measure could be ensuring that services for survivors of gender-based violence are designated as essential and remain accessible.

Stay healthy and entertained during the national lockdown. Sign up for our Lockdown Living newsletter. Register and manage your newsletters in the new News24 app by clicking on the Profile tab


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
As South Africa faces down the third Covid-19 wave, how are you keeping your family safe ?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Staying at home, isolating and being careful
18% - 300 votes
Sanitising and wearing masks when we go out
69% - 1165 votes
Going on as usual, we're not afraid of the virus
13% - 215 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.13
-0.0%
Rand - Pound
19.91
-0.3%
Rand - Euro
17.16
-0.7%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.99
-0.9%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.3%
Gold
1,843.26
+0.9%
Silver
27.41
+1.2%
Palladium
2,894.50
+1.0%
Platinum
1,229.50
+1.6%
Brent Crude
67.05
-3.3%
Top 40
60,573
+0.6%
All Share
66,598
+0.7%
Resource 10
69,386
-0.1%
Industrial 25
83,277
+0.9%
Financial 15
12,685
+1.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo