A new report has revealed how projects supported by a UN trust fund for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel are helping victims to regain their dignity, learn new skills, and improve their livelihoods while avoiding stigmatization.
Details of the projects, and the ways in which they are having a positive impact on the lives of victims and children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse, are contained within the trust fund’s fourth annual report, published on Thursday.
“We are grateful to the 24 Member States that support the Trust Fund, and look forward to the contributions. I encourage Member States and others to contribute,” said Catherine Pollard, UN Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC), as she introduced the report.
Rebuilding lives, breaking stigma
The UN is appealing to countries to donate an additional $4 million to the Trust Fund by 2024 to complement the $1 million remaining.
“The additional funding will help victims and their children rebuild their lives, break stigma, facilitate their reintegration within their communities, and realize their rights,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
Contributions to the Trust Fund can be made by governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organization, private institutions, or individuals.
In 2021, the Trust Fund implemented six projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one in Haiti, which positively impacted the lives of over 400 victims of sexual misconduct and exposed community members. Preparations are underway for the implementation of further projects in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Liberia and the DRC in the year ahead.
A video released to coincide with the publication of the report shows the effect a community project has had on the life of one of the victims – a young woman in eastern DRC – who is learning how to tie-dye cloth for sale.
The Trust Fund portfolio currently comprises voluntary contributions from Member States in the amount of $4.3 million, including approximately $600,000 representing payments withheld following substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel.
Supporting income generation
The Trust Fund was created by the Secretary-General in 2016 to strengthen the response and support of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel. To date, it has supported over 21,000 people. To avoid stigmatization, beneficiaries include not only victims but also those at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse, or who are in the most vulnerable situations in their communities.
Beneficiaries have participated in income-generating activities and also received legal support, medical assistance or school fees in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, and Liberia.
According to the report, victims of sexual exploitation and abuse experience consequences of these harms which go well beyond the psychological and the physical. They are often stigmatized by their families and community members, and may be abandoned without support to provide for themselves.
To address this, Trust Fund projects support income generation by providing victims with knowledge and tools which empower them to become economically active and self-sustaining.