22 January 2016

If a refugee’s journey is hard, a woman refugee’s journey is even harder: recent research published by Amnesty International shows how women and girls are facing violence, assaults and sexual harassment at every stage of their journey, including on European soil. In conversation with 40 refugee women, the organisation confirmed that all of them felt unsafe and threatened and experienced physical abuse, financial exploitation and sexual assaults.

UNHCR, the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) highlighted the same issues in a report released this week, collating the findings of a joint risk assessment mission in Greece and FYROM: women and girls refugees face gender-based violence either in the country of origin, of first asylum or along the route to safety. Moreover, reception facilities in Europe have been established without paying attention to the prevention of gender-based violence or developing an adequate response to it.

The report highlights how the percentage of women and children traveling has increased significantly over the last six months, from 27% recorded in June 2015 to 55% as of this month. It finds moreover that the current response to the humanitarian crisis in Europe is inadequate and is failing to protect women from the gender-related dangers to which they are exposed.

Amnesty international and UNHCR, UNFPA and WRC are all equally calling for the opening of safe and legal channel, in order for people – and especially women and girls – to be spared the dangers of these journeys altogether.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 22 January 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.