Joint Statement by Panos Moumtzis, Assistant SG and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis and Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA Regional Director for the Arab States on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women [EN/AR]

News and Press Release
Originally published


Amman, 25 November 2018

The UN is calling for strengthened efforts to end violence against women and girls in Syria, which continues to be a serious protection risk for women and girls.

Women and girls in Syria remain at risk of various types of gender-based violence (GBV), including child marriage, sexual violence, and domestic violence, in addition to violence within the family — all disproportionately affecting women and girls.

“We must do more to tackle the culture of silence and fear surrounding sexual and domestic violence,” said Panos Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator (RHC) for the Syria Crisis, marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. “It is unacceptable that gender-based violence continues to pervade the lives of women and girls, both in and out of the home.”

UNFPA’s Regional Director for Arab States, Luay Shabaneh, noted that adolescent girls continue to bear the brunt of the crisis, facing considerable risk of exploitation, abduction and forced and early marriage. “Forced and early marriage are not new phenomena in Syria, but protracted conflict and dire economic conditions have increased the risks of both, and many girls now marry younger.”

Moreover, up to 20 percent of clients seeking reproductive health services from some facilities supported by UNFPA are adolescent girls, indicating that they were likely survivors of forced or early marriage.

The risk of sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking in internal displacement settings is still particularly high, exacerbated by overcrowding, a lack of privacy, financial hardship and insecurity. Roadblocks, distribution points, camps and shelters are all problematic locations.

Meanwhile, women and girls in refugee communities throughout the region continue to face similar risks, particularly in camp settings where overcrowding and lack of access to viable livelihood opportunities are common causal factors.

“Thanks to increased disclosure in camps and amongst IDPs, over the last 12 months we have seen improved services for GBV survivors,” said Moumtzis. “Better awareness raising by humanitarian agencies has been crucial to increasing reach. However, social stigma, proximity to service provision centres and movement restrictions still hamper access.”

UNFPA is actively working with partner organizations at all levels to help mitigate the risk of gender-based faced violence faced by women and girls in Syria, and has introduced strict criteria to monitor the effectiveness of the humanitarian response in supporting GBV survivors

UNFPA is grateful for the support the international community has given the GBV response, however, more needs to be done,” added Shabaneh. “As women and girls continue to face the risk of GBV, we urge the international community to increase its support to prevent this scourge and ensure that more specialised services are in place.

For further information, please contact: David Swanson, Public Information Officer, OCHA Regional Office for the Syria Crisis, Amman,, Tel: +962 791 417 882 or Jafar Irshaidat, Communication Specialist, UNFPA,, Tel +962 798 281 300

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