Police from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and their counterparts from the Somali Police Force (SPF) have concluded a two-day awareness campaign on sexual and gender-based violence in the internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps in Baidoa, the administrative capital of the South West State.
The officers drawn from the gender and protection units held sensitization meetings in the camps based in the regional capital, owing to concerns of an increase in sexual violence.
South West state is hosting one of the highest number of IDPs, who have deserted their homes in search of food and water, as a result of the prevailing drought.
“We face challenges when female victims of torture and rape come to us,” Farhiyo Ahmed Mohamed, a Gender Officer with the Somali Police Force said.
She expressed concern that traditional beliefs jeopardized efforts to find justice for victims of sexual violence, as such efforts were impeded by clan leaders who prefer traditional justice mechanisms, to settle disputes.
“The elders want to resolve the cases traditionally. Yet we want to take cases to court so that victims can get legal redress,” she explained.
The AMISOM Protection Officer Ms. Gloria Jaase, decried the living conditions in the internally displaced people’s camps. She pointed out as a major concern, the lack of basic amenities such as shelter, water and sanitation.
“We visited different places in order to get information on the protection of women and girls,” said Ms. Jaase.
The delegation from AMISOM and Somali Police met with different partners to find ways of resolving the challenges facing women and girls in the camps.
“They mentioned that they require education and water. These are the major issues (they) raised,” Ms. Jaase noted.
CSP Pat Adegoke, AMISOM Police Gender Coordinator, urged victims of sexual violence to utilize the gender desks set up at the police stations, to report cases of rape and other forms of violence.
“We have gender desks now and there is an officer in Baidoa that they can report to. That is why we are here,” Adegoke stressed.
The Bay Regional Hospital administrator Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf held a meeting with the delegation.
“This hospital provides a range of services including services to survivors of gender-based violence,” he said, and encouraged victims of sexual violence to seek medical assistance.
“The rape victims who might have contracted diseases can now access medical care and treatment from the hospital,” Abdullahi stated.
The delegation was accompanied by the Military Gender Officer Major Bupe Chanda and AMISOM Civilian Gender Officer Ms. Stella Maranga.