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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid