2014-10-20
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UAE and Britain fund Somalian battle against sexual violence


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The UAE and UK will provide £2million in funding to help fight the horrific levels of sexual violence in Somalia.

The announcement was made yesterday by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the British foreign secretary William Hague.

The funds come ahead of a major London conference on Somalia next week, with the battle against sexual violence on the agenda.

"The UAE applauds the UK's strong leadership in bringing countries together to tackle the unacceptable prevalence of sexual violence in conflict situations," Sheikh Abdullah said.

"Through this contribution, the UAE is delighted to be able to support the Somali government in its efforts to protect and empower women."

In the agreement, the UAE will match Britain's contribution of Dh5.7m to establish the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative in Somalia.

"Women and girls in Somalia have suffered acutely from sexual violence as a result of the conflict," Mr Hague said.

"I am pleased that through the UK's close partnership with the UAE we can go some way to supporting the federal government of Somalia's efforts to address this issue and improve the lives of women and girls."

Decades of warfare and famine have turned Somalia into a lawless land where rape and other forms of sexual violence are disturbingly common.

More than a million people live as refugees, with the United Nations saying it recorded 1,700 cases of rape in camps last year, many carried out by members of the Somali security forces.

One of the most high-profile cases was that of Lul Ali Osman Barake, 27, a mother who went public about being raped by five men in uniform at a displaced persons camp last August.

After talking to the press she was arrested by police and given a one-year prison sentence for making false accusations, but was eventually set free on appeal.

"The victim was arrested instead of the rapists, so the rapists have been rewarded," Ms Barake told Britain's TheGuardian newspaper last March.

Concerns have also been raised by Zainab Bangura, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, who visited the Somalian capital of Mogadishu in April and raised Ms Barake's case.
Ms Bangura said 70 per cent of sexual violence was being carried out by men in uniform.
"This could be militia, it could be police, it could be soldiers," she said.

The Somalian president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has pledged to stop rape and violence committed by what he described as "those few" of his security forces.

The £2 million will provide support to the government in providing training.

It will also help Somalia to act on recommendations on the PSVI from the UN team of experts when it visits the country this year.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae





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