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The conference to protect individuals fleeing gender-based violence kicks off

The number of survivors of gender-based violence arriving in Italy is on the rise. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in collaboration with partners and institutions, is strengthening the response for refugee women and asylum seekers in Italy.



Rome, November the 15th, 2023. The majority of individuals seeking protection in Italy have survived gender-based violence in their countries of origin or during their transit. Gender-based violence constitutes a serious violation of human rights and disproportionately affects women and girls. When forced to flee, the risk increases. However, men, boys, and LGBTQIA+ individuals can also experience gender-based violence.

Enhancing the response and prevention of gender-based violence is the objective of the conference organized today in Rome by UNHCR in collaboration with partners Centro Astalli, Differenza Donna, D.i.Re, and LHIVE, with the support of Enel Cuore, the non-profit organization of the Enel Group, and Gruppo Mediobanca. If survivors of violence do not have timely access to specialized services, the consequences can be severe. Gender-based violence has profound repercussions on the immediate sexual, physical, and psychological health of individuals and increases the risk of future health problems. In some cases, the failure to identify gender-based violence may jeopardize the recognition of international protection.

Despite joint efforts and commitment, challenges remain numerous. In particular, the lack of culturally sensitive information, a scarcity of specialized services and trained mediators, the weak connection between the asylum system and the anti-violence system, and limited training opportunities for personnel in contact with survivors are the main obstacles to be addressed. Data on the presence in shelters paints a grim picture, with 62% being foreign women. The absence of disaggregated data on the incidence of refugees and asylum seekers severely limits the assessment of the extent of the phenomenon and the provision of adequate tools and resources.

UNHCR, along with partners, institutions, and other UN agencies, supported by the Enel Cuore Foundation and Gruppo Mediobanca, continues its work in Italy to address these challenges and contribute to restoring the well-being and resilience of survivors of gender-based violence.

"Refugee women arriving in Italy have survived unimaginable violence, both in their countries of origin and during their escape. For UNHCR, responding to their needs and ensuring it never happens again is a priority. We are grateful to our partners, institutions, Gruppo Mediobanca, and Enel Cuore Onlus because the work we are carrying out together will allow many more women to have timely access to the services they need and regain control of their future," stated Chiara Cardoletti, UNHCR Representative for Italy, the Holy See, and San Marino.

For UNHCR, it is crucial that prevention, risk mitigation, and response to gender-based violence are guided by a survivor-centered approach, with survivors actively involved in the development of prevention and response programs.

To learn more about UNHCR's response to gender-based violence, visit: https://www.unhcr.org/it/cosa-facciamo/protezione/esigenze-particolari/violenza-di-genere/.