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News፡ More than five million people need gender based violence response in Ethiopia: UN

Selam (name changed) holds a message in Tigrinya during an exercise at the safe house. Her note says, in English, “relief”. © UNFPA Ethiopia/Paula Seijo/May 2021

By Mihret G.kristos @mercy

Addis Ababa: Some 5.8 million people in Ethiopia are in need of a response to gender-based sexual violence due mainly to the escalation of militarized violence in the northern and other parts of the country, according to a new report by the UNFPA.

According to the report published on 06 October, the number of people in need of Gender Based Violence (GBV) response in 2022 increased from 3.5 million in 2021 to 5.8M spread across the conflict, drought, and flood-affected regions. The report further added that women and girls account for majority of survivors seeking services with GBV incidents against men and boys were also recorded though highly under-reported; however, the number of women and girls accessing multi-sectoral GBV services remain low due to factors such as fear of stigma, access to services and low availability of services.

The prolonged militarized violence in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regional states has “exacerbated preexisting patterns of discrimination against women and girls, exposing them to heightened risks of GBV and other harmful practices especially sexual violence” the report said. Girls and especially young women are disproportionately affected by GBV the report added.

“Women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately from GBV and violations of basic rights due to conflict, insecurity, overcrowding in IDP sites, forced relocations and returns, lack of livelihood opportunities, lack of community awareness on women’s rights as well as lack of access to response services.”

A record high level of GBV, especially sexual violence, has been recorded in the Tigray regional state where more than 2000 sexual violence survivors had sought services between November 2020 and June 2021, according to reports by the One Stop Centers (OSCs) and mobile teams compiled at the end of July 2021 by the Tigray regional state health bureau (TRHB).

The latest UNFPA report also indicated that GBV response needs are high in Benishangul Gumuz, Somali, Oromia and SNNP regions as a result of increased violence and drought. “The drought affecting Ethiopia especially in Somali, Oromia and Afar regions is exacerbating GBV risks for women and girls with anecdotal reports of a rise in sexual violence and early marriages, against a backdrop of communities practicing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This has implication on early and unintended pregnancy in a country with a high maternal mortality rate.”

More than one million people in 50 zones and 239 woredas across Ethiopia have benefited from GBV responses. AS

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