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UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Visits UNFPA Women’s Center in Dohuk

Under Secretary-General and Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura paid a visit on March 3 to UNFPA-supported Girls and Women Support and Treatment Center for survivors of sexual violence in conflict in Dohuk.

Accompanied during her visit by DSRSG Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, Bangura also met Dr. Nezar Ismat Tayib, the General Director of the Directorate of Health in Dohuk Governorate, northern Iraq.

During her visit Ms. Bangura stressed that the protection of women and girls amid conflicts should be a priority for the entire humanitarian community. She also reaffirmed the need to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict are held accountable and brought to book.

Meanwhile, Mr.Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative in Iraq Representative in Iraq, participating in a press conference with the SRSG Ms. Bangura in Erbil, highlighted the important role the center plays in providing the most needed psychosocial and medical services to survivors of sexual violence as part of UNFPA’s frontline response. “The Dohuk survivors’ centre is at the forefront of addressing the needs of the Yazidi sexual violence survivors,” Mr Balakrishnan said.  He also noted that “the center has provided specialized medical, psychological and psychiatric services to more than 900 Yazidi women who are sexual violence survivors”.

Mr. Balakrishnan also underlined the importance of establishing more centers to meet the needs of sexual violence survivors fleeing Mosul. “Recognizing the need for more centers as the operations in Western Mosul intensify, UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, plans to open another center in Kurdistan Region, in addition to the current centers in established in Dohuk and Ameriyat Al Fallujah,” he added.

With generous support from the governments of Canada and United States of America, the Dohuk Girls and Women Treatment and Support Center was established in September 2014 by UNFPA in collaboration with the Directorate General of Health of Dohuk Governorate. It aims to provide specialized medical and psychosocial support to sexual violence survivors by qualified and well trained personnel.

Since its establishment, the centre has expanded to provide additional services including legal counselling, social activities, mental health and psycho-social support services.

The center also plays an important role in engaging with local community leaders in advocating for the legal, social and protection rights and needs of the gender-based violence survivors to uphold their dignity, enhance their recovery and social re-integration.