Goma | MONUSCO
In May, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) inaugurated several projects in support of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN and related personnel.
The projects in Sake, located 27 km west of Goma (North Kivu), aim to strengthen communities through vocational training of young people and women who are victims or have been exposed to sexual exploitation, abuse and other forms of violence. They give them opportunities so that they do not have to engage in transactional sex. This initiative will also facilitate the reintegration of victims within their home environment.
“Siku ya Mazingira” (SYAM), a local organization and UN partner in charge of implementing the projects, also plans to reinforce awareness-raising and complaint mechanisms so that at-risk communities can safely report allegations.
Housed in a building inaugurated on the occasion, vulnerable women and victims of abuse will be able to take their lives into their own hands by practicing mushroom farming, sewing, baking, soap-making, cooking, hairdressing and animal husbandry.
In total, more than 500 community members will be able to learn a trade there, produce food and generate income.
MONUSCO Chief of staff Nancee Oku Bright opened the ceremony on behalf of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC. She said that these projects are part of the UN's global efforts to prevent and combat this scourge.
She noted that, since 2013, MONUSCO has been working with communities so that "not only the host communities but also staff are effectively protected from the devastating consequences that may result from these interactions”.
The ceremony was attended by victims and their families, local government officials, community leaders and MONUSCO representatives.
These projects are funded by the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at a cost of US$ 175,000 with contributions from Japan and Norway. They target the provinces of North and South Kivu, including the towns of Sake, Bujovu, Munigi and Kavumu.
Other victim assistance projects funded through the same mechanism are under preparation in Liberia and the Central African Republic.