Ethiopia: Drought exposing women to abuse, says UNICEF

Report
from The New Humanitarian
Published on 19 Mar 2003
ADDIS ABABA, 19 March (IRIN) - Fears are growing that women and girls could be subjected to sexual abuse after being forced from their homes because of the drought currently gripping Ethiopia, the UN said on Wednesday.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said emergency peacekeeping and humanitarian operations must insist on a zero tolerance approach to sexual abuse.

Launching a two-day workshop in Addis Ababa to raise awareness of the issue, it stressed that women and children must be protected, particularly in emergencies.

Ethiopia is currently reeling from a severe drought which has affected some 11 million people, according to the government. Thousands have been forced from their homes as they go in search of food or work to help keep their families alive.

"Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation are risks that must be factored in when developing all of our programming," said Joanne Dunn, UNICEF Child Protection Officer.

She added that the workshop could not be more timely with the current humanitarian crisis brought on by the drought. "Large numbers of women and children are being displaced from their homes and exposed to heightened risk of violence," she pointed out.

UNICEF warned that under such circumstances, as women or young girls have few options, they are often taken advantage of in return for support.

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