MOGADISHU, Somalia, Aug. 8 (UPI) — United Nations officials say they’re concerned about reports of women and young girls subjected to rape and sexual harassment while fleeing famine in Somalia.
Bunmi Makinwa, the United Nations Population Fund regional director for Africa, expressed the agency’s worries during a visit to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
“UNFPA is working with partners to offer lifesaving psychosocial assistance to women who have survived sexual violence. Indeed, UNFPA was informed by partners that many women had been subjected to rape and sexual harassment during their long journey to the camp,” Makinwa told Capital FM news of Nairobi.
More than 470,000 Somalis have gone to the Dadaab camp since the famine was declared, and an estimated 1,300 people fleeing Somalia enter the Kenyan border every day.
“It is distressing to hear the stories of women with small children who had to walk for over 25 days to get to the refugee camp,” Makinwa said. “People arrive in the camp with nothing apart from their life and the clothes they are wearing.”
Sustained efforts would be needed to provide for affected communities in the famine regions, he said.
“People are really struggling and it will take a lot of efforts to help them. But we know it is possible.”