UN: UN envoy calls for renewed fight against sexual violence in conflict

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Bangura, has said those who use rape as a weapon of war are becoming increasingly brutal and ruthless.

She therefore warned against a lax attitude that would allow emerging armed groups to gain further ground and continue committing such atrocious crimes.

"We have made tremendous progress in the last few years, but we must redouble our efforts in the face of new threats," Ms. Bangura told journalists at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday evening, which coincided with the one-year anniversary of the abduction by Boko Haram of 276 school girls in Nigeria.

She urged the international community to renew its commitment and apply increased pressure so as not to lose the ground that has been gained and to meet the demands of new and emerging threats.

To garner this support, Ms. Bangura said she would present the UN Secretary-General’s 2015 report on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

She noted that the report documented horrendous crimes committed in conflict zones around the world between January and December 2014, and identified some 19 countries and 45 armed
groups suspected of committing these crimes, including state forces, opposition groups and
violent extremist groups.

The UN official said combating sexual violence in conflict remains a challenge in Europe,
Asia, South America and the Middle East, saying: "Indeed, it is a global problem."

Ms. Bangura also disclosed that the report chronicles the disturbing trends of new and emerging non-state actors, listing some 45 armed transnational groups suspected of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

The UN official said in its recommendations, the report underscores the need for broader efforts
to strengthen institutional safeguards against impunity, saying: "For example, in the past year
military and police officers in countries covered by the report have been indicted, prosecuted,
and convicted on charges of conflict-related sexual violence."

She also said more women must be involved in peacekeeping and peace building processes,
in order to adequately address abuses and issues affecting women and girls.

"It is also critical to increase medical, psychosocial, legal and economic services and support
for survivors so that they can rebuild their lives. National and regional early warning systems
that sound the alarm against escalating sexual violence should be adopted to help prevent these atrocities before they occur.

"A country that does not respect women in peace time will not protect women in conflict, and
change the dynamics and change the opportunity for women," Ms. Bangura declared.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 15April2015

15 april 2015 09:12:42

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