News / Africa

Somali Women Face Rape, Sexual Assault as They Flee Famine

Most vulnerable women are on the outskirts of the camps

Kim Lewis

Women fleeing conflict and famine in Somalia are facing another threat to their lives, sexual assault.  As they make the long journey from what was once their home to the world’s largest refugee complex at Dadaab, Kenya, women have to contend with being attacked and raped by armed militants and bandits, often times repeatedly.

The violence does not stop once the women reach the camps. With the large influx of refugees, many women build shelters farther away from the center of the camps, making them more vulnerable to attacks.

However, the UN high commissioner for refugees, UNHCR says they have been working to increase security at the camps.

William Spindler a UNHCR spokesperson in Dadaab, Kenya, says rape is a very under reported crime even in developed countries.  At present, he says, there are no accurate figures on the number of women who are raped and sexually assaulted either in the camps or while travelling to the camps.

“What we know is from what they tell us, that inside Somalia, many women have been raped by various armed militants,” says Spindler.  “Once they cross the border on the way to the camps to Dadaab, some women are attacked by bandits and are also raped.”

The spokesman said there are also instances of rape in the camps.  The UNHCR is trying to move the most vulnerable women on the outskirts that are far away from services, to a new safer site.

Spindler said, “We also know that women are very vulnerable when they go out into the bush looking for firewood.  In many cases that is when they are attacked.”  He explained that his agency is providing women with firewood so they won’t have to go out looking for it.

But even with these efforts, Spindler said safety remains a major concern.  “It doesn’t matter how many precautions we take, there is still a lot of insecurity here in Dadaab because of the proximity to the Somali border.  Many armed people from Somalia are causing a lot of problems with security in and around Dadaab,” he said.

Somali women often leave camps in search of food.
Somali women often leave camps in search of food.

The Ifo 2 camps has been open now for about a week and the UNHCR has been moving people into this camp and another camp adjacent to it.

“Now people are being moved into tents.  Of the houses that have been built in this complex, which are only 116 houses—those houses will be given to the most vulnerable people,’ said Spindler.

The spokesman said there remains an urgent need to find accommodation for 90,000 people.  He said, “We are providing emergency accommodations in the form of tents and as of yesterday (August 1st), more than 10,000 people have been moved to these tents.”

Spindler says by moving the most vulnerable women and children, his agency is attempting to resolve some of the security problems there.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid