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In humanitarian crises, women and girls are the most vulnerable to violence and exploitation due to their lower socioeconomic status that is grounded by pre-existing inequalities and discriminative social and legal norms.


GBV has a greater impact on women and girls, as they are most often the survivors and suffer greater physical damage than men when victimized (WHO, 2005). A shelter is a safe house. It is a place that provides an alternative and temporary shelter to survivors of violence, especially when the safety of survivors is at risk if the survivor continues to stay where they are.


The intended purpose of a shelter is to keep the survivors from any further potential harm from the alleged perpetrator/s to support/them in dealing with the traumatic experience and prepare for the legal process. The shelter must be viewed as a temporary protection placement while efforts are made for the safety of the survivors to either return home or pursue other alternatives.


In Somalia, GBV shelters provide temporary accommodation to vulnerable women and girls (including children of women) fleeing threatening and violent situations at home with families. Shelter provisions are limited and often do not meet the standard requirements for safety and security to encourage women and girls who need physical protection to utilize such spaces. An ideal safe house should offer case management services that include psycho-social and legal support and follow-up care and, in the end, ensure access to justice.


In addition, safe houses should provide economic or vocational training to equip survivors with the necessary skills to lead independent and dignified lives when they leave the shelter.


This SOP offers an opportunity to standardize services and operations of GBV shelters in Somalia to improve safety and security for vulnerable women and girls, including GBV survivors. It aligns with the intent of the GBV sub-cluster strategy to standardize services and operations to ensure that survivors are confident to seek and obtain safe and timely services, and Shelter service providers can offer and sustain such services.


Information in this SOP is adapted from UNICEF 2018 publication - Summary of call on Somalia Safe Shelter, GBV coordination handbook 2019 and the IASC Guidelines on Integrating GBV in Emergencies, 2015.