Monday, 06 02 2023
Monday, 06 02 2023
PM Pashinyan sends Independence Day greetings to PM Gunawardena of Sri Lanka, highlights development of ties
Keeping international spotlight on Artsakh is among objectives, says State Minister Ruben Vardanyan
18:17
Armenian Church pays homage to troops on Feast of Saint Sarkis
17:58
Free screening program: 170 women diagnosed with early-stage cancer
17:39
The Iranian president will visit Latin America
ICRC facilitates transfer of six patients from blockaded Artsakh to Armenia
17:01
The draft gas agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan is a blow to Armenians, a member of the Senate.
16:42
Armenian MPs present the situation around Lachin Corridor to the Serbian Ambassador
16:23
The Russian Ambassador to Armenia visits the city of Jermuk
At least 5,100 people have lost their jobs and source of income due to Azerbaijan’s closure of the Lachin Corridor
15:26
Hong Kong to give away 500,000 free airline tickets to revive tourism industry
15:07
Midfielder Hovhannes Harutyunyan extends contract with FC Pyunik for one year
14:48
Chinese car dealerships in Russia have doubled
14:29
Snow and fog are expected, and thunderstorms in mountainous regions
14:10
“The diaspora should have a wider involvement in the government circles of RA,” Sinanyan
13:51
The US has announced a new $2.2 billion aid package to Ukraine
Makunts discussed the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan with the US congressman
13:13
In Iran, women who do not wear hijab will not be able to use social services
MFA notification on entering Georgia with ID cards and visiting the UAE without an entry visa
12:35
Ronaldo scored the first goal for Al-Nasr in official games
12:16
There is ice on a number of RA highways, Lars is open
11:57
French fashion designer Paco Rabanne has died
11:38
The World Bank will continue to support the reforms of the RA government
11:19
“Now is not the time,” the US state minister criticized Georgia
11:00
The RA Minister of Finance received Sebastian Molyneux
10:41
Kyiv needs 17 billion dollars to recover in 2023
10:22
The senior advisor of the US Security and Cooperation Commission in Europe was hosted at the National Assembly
10:03
Germany intends to supply Leopard-1 tanks to Ukraine
18:55
Aliyev received EU Commissioner for Energy Affairs Simson
18:36
The upcoming presidential elections in Turkey are crucial

Syrian women and girls allege use of sexual violence as weapon of war. Mark Tran. The Guardian

Rape is a “significant and disturbing” feature of the Syrian civil war, with women and girls citing sexual violence as their main reason for fleeing the country, according to a report published on Monday.

Women and girls told the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of being attacked in public and in their homes, primarily by armed men. The rapes, sometimes by several men, often occurred in front of family members.

“The stories we’ve heard, talking to Syrian women, are truly horrific,” said Sanj Srikanthan, IRC-UK emergency field director. “Many of these women have experienced rape and torture in Syria, but as refugees [they] can’t find the support they need to heal their physical and emotional scars – let alone provide food and shelter for their families.”

During interviews with 240 Syrian women and girls in Lebanon and Jordan, IRC learned of attacks involving kidnap, rape, torture and murder, with Syria’s many roadblocks a particular danger.

IRC said it was impossible to give figures, but its report draws attention to the use of rape as a strategy in war. Sexual violence occurs in every humanitarian crisis, notably during the Balkan wars and in conflicts in parts of Africa, and Syria is no exception. In a report in June, Human Rights Watch said Syrian government forces have used sexual violence to torture men, women and boys detained in the conflict.

Last year, British foreign secretary William Hague launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative to highlight these issues. The Foreign Office has assembled a team of 70 doctors, lawyers, forensic experts and psychologists who can be deployed to conflict areas.

Hague told parliament last week that the UK is sending specialists to deal with rape and sexual violence in Syria. “We’ve deployed experts to the region to provide training in how to respond to reports of sexual violence, to improve the prospect of future investigation and prosecutions, and we will intensify this work as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Members of the team will train local health professionals to gather medical and forensic evidence and documentation that can be used in prosecutions. Hague has said Britain will use its presidency of the G8 group of industrialised countries this year to push for a new international protocol on the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in conflict.

The UN estimates the death toll during nearly two years of civil war in Syria at 60,000. More than 2.5 million people, from a population of 22.5 million, have fled their homes, with 612,000 people registered as refugees in neighbouring countries. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said on Friday that harsh winter conditions, including freezing rain, have made life even more difficult for refugees.

The UN World Food Programme has warned that it was unable to deliver food to up to 1 million hungry and desperate Syrians because of spiralling violence across the country and a lack of fuel. The UN has appealed for $1.5bn (£9.3m) for the first six months of this year, the largest short-term UN appeal, but it remains seriously underfunded.

IRC said aid is drastically insufficient to meet existing needs, let alone the barest requirements to respond to a lengthy humanitarian emergency and post-conflict recovery.

Refugee camps have gained much media attention, yet most Syrian refugees are in towns and cities in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, IRC added. In a grim irony, Iraq and Syria have reversed their previous roles as states of refuge. Iraq now hosts 67,000 refugees whereas, five years ago, Iraqis fled to Syria. Lebanon has received more than 200,000 Syrian refugees, Jordan 176,500 and Turkey more than 148,000.

“While some Syrians are housed by host families in cramped quarters, most are renting small, dilapidated unfurnished apartments that they increasingly cannot afford,” said IRC. “Others find shelter in sheds, barns, basements and abandoned buildings unfit for habitation. Some are offered shelter by local authorities in unused public spaces.”

Urban refugees are straining the education, health and water facilities of host countries. Rents have gone up for both refugees and locals, and tension is on the rise.

The IRC report also described the deliberate targeting of medical and healthcare facilities by the Syrian government. Doctors told the IRC of a systematic campaign to restrict access to healthcare through strategic bombing, forcing the closure of hospitals.

IRC urged donors to significantly increase bilateral aid to host countries to help offset the strain on their infrastructure and ease tension. The US has given $100m to Jordan, but IRC said donors should give more to Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. IRC said donors must recognise sexual violence as a feature of the Syrian conflict, as well as the threats Syrian women and girls face as refugees and the shortage of quality services available to them, and develop an appropriate strategy to address the crisis.

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