UNITED NATIONS, July 18: Angelina Jolie, in her capacity as special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Friday called for more funds for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
In her briefing to a Security Council debate entitled “Women, peace and security: sexual violence in conflict,” Jolie highlighted the lack of services for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, giving examples of Yezidi children in Iraq abducted and abused by the Islamic State terrorist group in 2014.
One mother whose daughter was abducted when she was 6 years old and survived three years of beating and abuse, could not get medical help for her because she was considered too young to treat, said Jolie.
“To be clear, the lack of services flows from the failure of the international community to provide the funds to make this possible, as well as the political will,” said Jolie. “Sexual and gender-based violence is the most chronically underfunded sector of the humanitarian appeals of the UN, receives less than 1 percent of humanitarian assistance.”
“My concern and my question to the council is this: If we are not able to live up to our promise of a survivor-centered approach for the Yezidi children, who make up just one relatively small group of survivors, then how many more children and young adults are suffering in silence at a global level? How many more will suffer because of the violence exacerbated by COVID-19 and a distracted international community? The answer is we don’t know,” said Jolie.
The UN secretary-general’s annual report on sexual violence in conflict, on which the Security Council was briefed, describes a disturbing trend of violence against very young boys and girls in multiple countries. Girls and boys are targeted in order to terrorize their communities because of perceived affiliations of their parents or their perceived utility or market value, she noted.
Jolie called for accountability for such crimes.
More often than not in many settings, not a single perpetrator of alleged systematic conflict-related sexual violence has been held to account, she said. “These are our choices, the choices of the member states, our choices. We have to be prepared to admit where we have failed and to do the hard work to support the survivors, change the laws and attitudes, and bring the perpetrators to account.”
She asked the Security Council to recommit to its promises, to move beyond rhetoric and to implement its decisions. “Please hold perpetrators to account. Please address root, structural causes of gender-based violence and discrimination in your countries. Please urgently increase funding for programs that address the needs of all of the survivors, especially the children,” she said.