Bringing a ray of light to the victims of violence

Having suffered a serious drought in 2011, Somalia was witnessing an increase in social unrest, in particular, violence towards women. 

In response to the growing problem, IOM initiated a series of projects, supporting existing health care providers, to provide emergency health services to drought affected internally displaced persons (IDPs), with particular focus on psychosocial support and protection with a focus on trafficking and gender-based violence (GBV).  In addition, community members are recruited for training as psychosocial counselors and peer counselors to reach other vulnerable IDPs through information sessions.

Many of the GBV cases are reported to occur at night, when IDP settlements are plunged in darkness.

In response to this, IOM is partnering with global Japanese company, Panasonic, to distribute solar lanterns to the most vulnerable.

“Our community did not have light before, now our nights have become days. “

Fadumo Mohamed, an internally displaced person from Koosar IDP Settlement in Burao, Somaliland

In response to this initiative, a partnership has been formed between IOM, University of Tokyo (Japan) and University of Nairobi (Kenya) to conduct a baseline and post-intervention study in Garowe, that will examine the frequency of sexual and gender-based (SGBV) cases and the effectiveness of solar lanterns as a means of protection for vulnerable IDPs.

To raise wider awareness against the impact of GBV, IOM alongside its partners also support social mobilization through campaigns and events like the ‘16 Days of Activism’.

The event reached over 16,000 IDPs in Galkayo, Puntland. The community-led GBV awareness activities were coordinated by one of IOM’s partners, the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD), a local NGO, which was founded by Mama Hawa Aden Mohamed, the winner of the 2012 Nansen Refugee Award.

“In Somalia, solar lanterns have great potential to protect women and children in internally displaced person (IDP) settlements against sexual assault. Panasonic has granted funding to IOM to conduct a study on assessing the links between solar lanterns and a reduction in sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). It will also seek to highlight other positive results of lanterns in the settlements. The study will be released in December 2013.”