The United Nations estimates there are 42 million refugees now living
in 115 countries. Women and children comprise the vast majority. While
all displaced people experience loss and face danger, women and girls
are vulnerable to exploitation, rape and abuse.
women and girls will require more money and long term commitment,
according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and
other refugee organizations. The officials expressed their concern at a
meeting with US congressional aides on Wednesday.
More help needed
humanitarian crisis occurs, the international community is quick to
respond with food and shelter for refugees in immediate danger. But the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says
more needs to be done to protect women and girls.
He told the story of a woman who was attacked at a refugee camp in Congo.
was raped by a group of armed men, one after the other, after the
other, after the other," he explained. "At a certain moment her son about 18
or 20 years old came and he was shot and killed by the ones that were
raping her. And when the news was given to her husband, he died with a
Guterres says more needs to be done to save the
lives of women and girls in refugee camps. More direct assistance,
more security, more training and more economic opportunities are
Funding not keeping up with problem
The U.S. leads the world in providing refugees
assistance. President Barack Obama recently pledged $110 million to help the two million Pakistanis who have fled fighting in
the country's Swat Valley.
But Refugees International President Kenneth Bacon says funding is not keeping up with the scale of the problem.
do think that the displaced person and refugee story is a very
universal story that tugs on all our hearts, and I think people
appreciate the cost and pain of displacement and want to respond to it
as well as they can. The ability to respond now during hard economic
times by countries and by individuals more difficult than it was before
but I think that the desire to do that is still there," he said.
Darfur remains major concern
UN High Commissioner for Refugees says there are places like Darfur
where the international community's ability to operate is limited.
to be honest, I say, I feel I would say skeptical but very doubtful
that there will be any meaningful progress in the near future. So my
expectation about Darfur is that things will get worse before they will
be able to get better," said Guterres.
To protect displaced
women and children, he says the international community must maintain
pressure on oppressive regimes and support assistance programs long
after the media spotlight has moved on or the immediate crisis has