Displaced women around the world are exposed to a heightened risk of domestic violence because of restrictive measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, warns.
Women who are refugees, internally displaced or stateless are finding it more difficult to protect themselves under quarantine or lockdown, the Geneva-based agency said on Monday.
“Some may end up confined to their shelters and homes, trapped with their abusers without the opportunity to distance themselves or to seek in-person support,” said Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection.
Because of a lack of documents and worsening economic conditions, others may be forced to into prostitution or child marriages, she warned.
“Globally, our network of UNHCR protection staff are on high alert,” said Triggs.
In some locations, UNCHR programmes to protect women and girls are now being managed remotely amid the pandemic, with the help of local community volunteers.
The UN Refugee Agency urged governments and humanitarian agencies to account for the growing risk of gender-based violence against displaced women as they draw up pandemic response strategies.
Access to health services, security protection, psycho-social support and safe shelters must be guaranteed, Triggs said.