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UN agencies help set up support centre for Rwandan survivors of violence

UN agencies help set up support centre for Rwandan survivors of violence

Outside the National University of Rwanda
Survivors of child, domestic and gender-based violence in Rwanda will now be able to access the support and services they need at a new “one-stop” centre that will open in the capital, Kigali, thanks to a partnership between national authorities and several United Nations agencies.

The centre will be called Isange – which means feel welcome and free in Kinyarwanda – and will offer medical, legal and psycho-social services to survivors of violence in comfortable and confidential surroundings, according to a news release issued by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

In a recent study by UNIFEM and the National University of Rwanda on sexual and gender-based violence, survivors reported that the way police, hospitals and courts are set up does not provide an appropriate atmosphere to report on violence.

Some services to address such violence do exist but they are “often scattered and inhibit, rather than facilitate, timely and efficient responses.”

The Isange Centre, which will be located in Kigali’s Kacyriu Police Hospital, will offer a range of services, including protection from further violence, crime investigation, medical testing and referrals to courts of law as well as treatment for physical and psychological trauma.

The initiative is made possible through a partnership agreement signed last week between the Rwanda National Police Health Services and the UN in Rwanda, with support from UNIFEM, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“The United Nations is committed to working with Rwanda’s Government and civil society to prevent violence, particularly as it affects children and women,” said Aurelien Agbénonci, the UN’s Resident Coordinator.

“We have recently provided assistance to national authorities to put in place a multi-sector response and prevention strategy, and this centre goes one step further to make this strategy a reality by providing comprehensive, timely, affordable and effective services.”

Similar “one-stop centres” for survivors of violence have also been implemented in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Sweden, according to UNIFEM.