A safe house for GBV survivors in Mogadishu

2 September 2015

A safe house, to be used as temporary protection accommodation for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) whose security and safety have been compromised, opened in Mogadishu on August 29.

The centre has been established by Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC) and is funded by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA USAID) through UNFPA Somalia.

Director of SSWC Mama Amina explained that the centre will help in centralising support services for GBV survivors in one location making their experience more humane, thus, overcoming the current reluctance of many to seek support when they are abused.

She highlighted that the safe house contains an office, four bedrooms; each with two beds, a kitchen and a living room complete with a television set. It also boasts of 24-hour security. Cooks and cleaners are stationed to give support to the survivors and the facility will provide three full meals every day.

"Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a serious problem in Somalia especially in settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and we need many more interventions," said Mama Amina.

She said the establishment of a temporal protection shelter is very timely. Mama Amina commended UNFPA and OFDA USAID for supporting the efforts of SSWC.

Director General for Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development Mr. Mohamed Omar said at the opening ceremony that the Safe House is important as it will house survivors of GBV and accommodate witness during court hearings if they fear repercussions from the alleged perpetrators.

"Mogadishu needs many more safe houses as this alone cannot accommodate the huge number of GBV survivors that are received on daily basis. The majority of them are facing security hardships in their vicinities," said Mr. Omar.

UNFPA GBV Coordinator for South Central Somalia Mr. Mohamed Mursal Abdi commended SSWC for the establishment of the safe house and for co-chairing responsibilities at the national GBV working group.

"We need to sensitise all members of the GBV working group and members of the public on what a safe house is, what services are available in it, how long can a survivor be accommodated there. Everyone needs to have a clear impression on the essence of referring the survivor to the safe house so that it is effective," said Mr. Abdi.

The opening ceremony of the SSWC Safe House was attended by members of civil society groups, UN agencies, women activists and different government departments.

by Pilirani Semu-Banda; UNFPA Somalia Comunications Specialist