A safety audit conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at several Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Benue State has unveiled instances of sexual violence against children residing in the camps. The audit, which highlighted cases of sexual harassment and abuse, disclosed its findings over the weekend during UNICEF’s interventions on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for thousands of IDPs, predominantly children, and their caregivers in three camps in Guma Local Government Area (LGA) of the state,Daily Trust reports.
UNICEF, in collaboration with local partners JASPI Health and Gender Development Initiative and Benue Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (BERWASSA), distributed materials to the IDPs, emphasizing the need for increased efforts from the state government, donor partners, and stakeholders to address issues of sexual and gender-based violence within the camps.
Victor Atuchukwu, the Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF Enugu Field Office, conveyed the observations at the Ortese camp, highlighting UNICEF’s commitment to safeguarding children and women. He explained that the intervention focused on preventing and responding to SGBV in IDP camps, specifically targeting three camps in Guma LGA—Ortese, Uikpam, and Mbawa—as beneficiaries.
Atuchukwu noted that a safety audit conducted in August 2023 revealed instances of violence against children, specifically in terms of sexual harassment and abuse. To sustain protection and prevent further violence, UNICEF engaged with the community, camp chairmen, camp managers, and government actors, discussing the audit findings. The involvement of local partners, such as JASPI, ensured that the community took ownership of the intervention program.
The Executive Director of JASPI Health and Gender Development Initiative, Doosuurshater Agbata, mentioned that they provided training and sensitization on GBV, SGBV, and MHPSS in the three camps. Agbata reported that 43 social workers were trained, including 22 individuals from the camps and 21 social workers, focusing on response and protection for MHPSS, GBV, SGBV, and parenting.