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Protecting Refugee Women and Children

Throughout the year, refugee women were victims of sexual and domestic violence. In Guinea, for example, women were targeted in the retaliatory attacks on refugees in the wake of President Conte's inflammatory anti-refugee declarations. Human Rights Watch reported on the rape of Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugee women by groups of armed civilian militia, police, and soldiers in the September attacks in Conakry. Women, some of them as young as fourteen, were raped--in many cases gang raped--sexually assaulted, and humiliated, often in the presence of family members. Many of the women had fled Sierra Leone to escape gross human rights violations, including rape and other sexual assault. Human Rights Watch charged that UNHCR and the international community were slow to publicly condemn these brutal attacks against refugee women and called on the Guinean government and UNHCR to immediately investigate the incidents of rape and bring the perpetrators to justice. In 2000, Human Rights Watch issued a report on the high levels of sexual and domestic violence against Burundian refugee women in camps in Tanzania. The situation in Guinea and Tanzania highlighted the persistent dangers for refugee women and lack of effective protection against or rapid response to sexual violence in emergency situations and to domestic violence in refugee settlements.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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