When peacekeepers are equipped to understand, respond to and prevent some of the dynamics that can destabilise an often fragile peace, then their value is greatly enhanced in post-conflict situations. This is particularly the case if they are able to engage pro-actively on issues of conflict-related sexual violence and its ‘post-conflict’ manifestations in the form of sexual exploitation and abuse. The report offers testimony to the value of such training endeavours, as well as to the importance of the International Protocol as a guiding document around which to organise both the content and the process.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Uganda, lives have and continue to change dramatically. With several measures and televised Presidential directives, the #StayHome mantra continues to impact lives in various ways. Refugees and host communities have not been spared – if any, the pandemic has worsened the already biting challenges and vulnerabilities.
With some vulnerable communities in ‘hard-to-reach’ places at the receiving end of the directives and its associated enforcement and curfew, many of the things happening in and around refugee-hosting areas haven’t made it to the media. Many refugees and hosts are mired in inadequately documented challenges.
While communities have not resigned themselves to the hurdles at hand and are adopting numerous creative coping mechanisms, the ways in which such resilience and positive coping mechanisms can be supported and replicated elsewhere by government, civil society, and international actors requires further exploration.
In the statement to mark the occasion, RLP asked the question; What if we responded to sexual violence in conflict as an existential threat? The press statement took a critical look at what the national and international response to COVID-19 has taught us thus far about our collective potential to end sexual violence in conflict. If we can mobilise the resources and will to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, if we can close airports and public transport to better control the virus, couldn’t we do the same to better control sexual violence in conflict? While COVID-19 has directly harmed our capacity to respond to survivor needs in the short term, it has also made clear that to eliminate sexual violence in conflict we need a sea change in how it is perceived. We need to see it as the existential threat it undoubtedly is, and invest time, effort and resources correspondingly.
The international criminal law (ICL) system can only hear and describe a tiny fraction of what people experience, particularly when it comes to sexual violence. The ICL system not only makes it difficult for victims to disclose their experiences, but often misplaces, deprioritises and erases the sexual elements of violence under other headings such as ‘torture’ and ‘inhumane treatment’. This is what inspired ‘Call It What It Is’, a campaign designed to enable victims to freely testify in a system where sexual violence is better articulated.
After several years of work on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), this declaration is a demonstration that through rigorous advocacy, we can collectively realise progressive transformation towards better support for survivors/victims and gender inclusivity. However, herculean hurdles lie ahead of the journeys toward realising contexts where all survivors can access and uptake services without discrimination, and where survivors/victims are not only beneficiaries of services but also active partners in response to and prevention of sexual violence.
I have had an interesting photography journey thus far! With numerous interactions with ‘professional’ photographers, I have learnt to view the world in an entirely different way. That said, I have contributed to Refugee Law Project’s photo gallery with my ‘raw’ photos which 'professional' photographers refer to as amateur, but I brand them as ‘organic photos’ since they contain no artificial additives. For those who missed out on my photos shared via social media and/or struggle with the constant bustle and alerts of the 'new media', worry no more – the Photo Gallery on RLP’s website is up and running with carefully selected and stunning photos.
Following RLP’s contribution at the 49th Session of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNFVT) on 3 April 2019 during which Aimé Moninga and David Onen Ongwech, Programme Manager Gender & Sexuality, represented Refugee Law Project and amplified the voices of male survivors of Conflict-related Sexual Violence (CRSV), we are pleased to share the report of the Public Event and the Annual Expert Workshop produced by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.
The article throws light on the contentious debates surrounding the question whether women are doing enough to support fellow women in the empowerment struggle to attain their full leadership potential. The article also explores some ways that may be used to address the challenges that hinder refugee women and girls from achieving their full leadership potential.
In the interest of reaching a large refugee population with diverse languages, these translations are a fulfilment of our mandate; "To be a resource for forced migrants and relevant actors". The 8 languages into which the statement has been translated only encompass a portion of the broad language needs of forced migrants in Uganda, and ignites discussion on the urgent need for refugee-serving agencies to rethink their approaches of sharing written information to their clients.
This blog questions why women's rights activists and their decades-long advocacy for inclusion of women and girls in development is yet to realise substantial results in the context of refugee women in protracted displacements. In explicating her argument, the author reflects upon and questions why amidst emphasis and investments on 'Participation' and 'Empowerment', the lived realities for many vulnerable refugee women remain far from convincing.