Posted by: africanpressorganization | 23 March 2010

Sierra Leone / IOM Provides Technical Assistance to Reparations Programme for Victims of Sexual Violence




Sierra Leone / IOM Provides Technical Assistance to Reparations Programme for Victims of Sexual Violence



FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, March 23, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Press Briefing Notes

A German government-funded IOM programme is providing technical assistance and expertise to the Sierra Leone Reparations Programme (SLPR) set up to redress some of the worst consequences of the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed during the brutal 1991-2002 conflict.

The programme aims to assist some 650 vulnerable and needy women who suffered rape and other forms of sexual violence by providing them with six-month vocational training and a cash allowance of up to USD 500 to help them set up an income generating activity of their choice or seek additional education.

As part of the programme, beneficiaries will be provided with regular trauma counselling and training to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage the risks of HIV/AIDS and report gender-based violence.

“Victims of sexual violence are all too often stigmatised, blamed and abandoned by their families,” says Norbert Wuehler, IOM’s Director of Reparations Programmes. “Many feel abandoned and have lost all hope their sufferings would one day be recognised. This programme will help them regain their dignity by providing them with comprehensive psychosocial support and vocational training to help them rebuild their shattered lives.”

The setting up of the SLRP, a key recommendation of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2004, has taken time, not just because of the difficulties in defining the worst atrocities and in identifying the most vulnerable among the war victims, but crucially in raising the funds to provide eventual and actual assistance.

To date, the reparations programme has provided micro-cash allowances to more than 20,000 war victims. Some 230 particularly affected victims of sexual violence have also benefited from basic medical treatment and/or fistula surgery.

“This is the first time that war reparations are specifically tailored to address the many pressing needs of victims of sexual violence. We hope this will serve as a model for other women who have suffered cruelty and abuse in conflicts,” says IOM’s Norbert Wuehler.  

Although it will never be known just how many civilian victims of war there are, the range of atrocities committed were enormous. In addition to children being press-ganged into becoming combatants, each warring faction committed wide-spread sexual violence on women and girls including rape, sexual slavery, genital mutilation, forced marriages as well as chopping people’s limbs in acts of needless violence to terrorise the population.

Despite funding from the German government, the UN Peace Building Fund and UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, the Sierra Leone Reparations Programme urgently needs USD 8 million to continue providing much needed assistance to all victims of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.

A photo gallery by award winning photojournalist and documentary maker Nick Danziger highlighting the stories and issues civilian war victims face is available at:


International Office of Migration (IOM)


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