Conflict-related sexual violence victims need national recognition: UN report
Victims of conflict and terrorism-related sexual violence need greater national recognition in order to help relieve the stigma that they suffer.
That’s one of the overarching policy recommendations from the latest Report of the UN Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence.
Survivors of such crimes should be entitled to relief and reparations, says the report, and it calls on traditional and religious leaders to redirect blame and stigma away from victims, to the perpetrators.
It also calls for access to “comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare”, including safe and legal termination of unwanted pregnancies for rape survivors.
The annual report examines the urgent need for “socioeconomic reintegration” for survivors, including those liberated from terrorist groups such as ISIL or Boko Haram.
Sexual violence is a driver of forced displacement and a form of persecution, with strong links to human trafficking and the targeting of minorities in many conflicts, the report adds.
35,000 in need in besieged Syrian town receive lifesaving aid
Life-saving humanitarian assistance has been delivered to around 35,000 people in the besieged Syrian town of Duma, near Damascus, the UN said on Wednesday.
The area was last reached on 19 October last year.
The Syrian civil war is now in its seventh year and UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that the UN remained deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in the area of eastern Ghouta, where Duma is located.
“The convoy to Duma highlights that when there is enough political will, security and access challenges can be overcome and life-saving assistance can reach those in dire need of assistance… Some 400,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance in eastern Ghouta overall. We call on all the parties and those with influence over them to take the necessary actions to ensure that other areas in eastern Ghouta can be reached as soon as possible.”
Astana talks over Syria should continue “at any cost” amid reports of airstrikes
There needs to be an “immediate investigation” into reported airstrikes in Syria, which are threatening the progress of permanent ceasefire talks in Kazakhstan.
That’s according to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who is an official observer at the talks in Astana, which are sponsored by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
He said everyone taking part supported “the continuation of talks at any cost because what is at stake, is very important.”
Amid reports that Syrian opposition negotiators had pulled out on the first day in protest at airstrikes, the envoy said all parties should press ahead on Thursday.
A lasting ceasefire has proved elusive since the Astana talks began in January, but Mr De Mistura said he hoped “de-escalation discussions and confidence-building measures” would resume.
Every time new talks begin, he said provocative military action had occurred, on the part of “one side or the other.”
Matthew Wells, United Nations.