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Syria: Sexual Offences

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 11597, tabled on 13 October 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the level of sexual violence (a) within Syria and (b) in camps for Syrian refugees.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

19 October 2015

We are extremely concerned by the high levels of sexual violence in Syria and within Syrian refugee camps. The UN Commission of Inquiry report of September 2015 highlighted widespread sexual abuse carried out by the Syrian regime, ISIL and some armed opposition groups within Syria. Assad’s forces and militia are responsible for the vast majority of sexual violence, which include threats, rape, degrading body searches and sexual harassment in prisons and branches of the security agencies. ISIL propaganda condones the barbaric treatment of male and female captives, sexual relations with adolescent girls and sexual slavery. Unfortunately, many of those who flee the conflict remain extremely vulnerable to sexual violence. Exploitation of vulnerable individuals within refugee camps was highlighted by the UN Equity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women report “We keep Silent” issued in April 2014. The UK is providing £1 billion in humanitarian aid, which includes support to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide services for survivors of sexual violence and has so far reached over 27,000 women in Syria. We are also supporting case management in Jordan for over 800 survivors and cash assistance to vulnerable refugee women in Lebanon. The FCO has committed £5.2 million to projects preventing sexual violence in Syria. We are supporting projects to train health professionals and human rights defenders in collecting and preserving evidence of human rights abuses including sexual violence.

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