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Women's vulnerability to human rights abuses in Tanzania's refugee camps is compounded by the lack of adequate assistance to those camps. In refugee situations like those in Africa, where international focus on and assistance to refugees is particularly limited, the resource scarcity impacts most severely on vulnerable women and children. These groups face the greatest challenge to securing both the basic necessities for life and the rights and freedoms which they should enjoy even as refugees. As the evidence from Tanzania shows, the failure to provide necessary assistance to refugees in Africa and to ensure that such aid is available to women opens the way to serious, ongoing human rights violations. It is vitally important, therefore, that unhcr has now initiated programs to address sexual and domestic violence in the Tanzanian refugee camps. These initiatives are evidence that, with staff training and resources, much can be done to afford necessary protection to refugee women. While unhcr's current programs to protect women refugees from violence in the Tanzanian camps are in their initial stages and will take some time to affect the lives of refugee women, they are steps in the right direction and, if ultimately successful, could and should be adapted and replicated in unhcr programs elsewhere.

UNHCR's Guidelines on Refugee Women clearly observe that women's protection needs must be addressed from the very earliest stages of an emergency, stating, "Decisions made early in a refugee emergency regarding such fundamental issues as camp lay-out and food distribution mechanisms can have long-term ramifications for the protection of refugee women."213 Similarly, the Sexual Violence Guidelines underscore the importance of taking appropriate preventive measures in the early stages of a refugee crisis, noting that "mistakes in the early phases of the creation of a camp are extremely difficult to correct satisfactorily later."214

There are several important lessons that can be drawn from the Tanzania case. First, unhcr needs to ensure an institutionalized response to address the protection needs of refugee women from the onset of any emergency, rather than waiting until a problem has been identified to respond. Second, unhcr guidelines on the protection of refugee women and the prevention of sexual violence must be speedily and consistently implemented in all refugee situations, and UNHCR staff need to be fully apprised of and trained on their content. Third, unhcr mustaddress the protection gap for victims of domestic violence and urgently introduce policy guidelines for its staff on how to prevent and respond to the problem of domestic violence. Fourth, from the onset of any refugee emergency, UNHCR must work closely with the host government wherever possible, to ensure that cases of sexual and domestic violence against refugee women are properly investigated and prosecuted, under the host government's laws. Finally, the Tanzanian case illustrates that with institutional commitment and adequate support, many of the protection needs of refugee women can be effectively addressed by unhcr.

213 UNHCR, Guidelines on Refugee Women, p. 15.

214 UNHCR, Sexual Violence Guidelines, p. 12.

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