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A UNFPA supported safe house operated by the Association for Women's Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) was inaugurated on September 15 in Dessie Town, Amhara Region. The safe house is the first of its kind in the Amhara Region and will be supporting women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Tesfaye Chane, Deputy Mayor of Dessie Town, appreciated the start of the three-year project noting that it is quite difficult to imagine supporting this initiative from the meagre government resources. Indicating that Dessie and its environs has a high prevalence of gender-based violence, Mr. Tesfaye noted that the project will be important in alleviating the problem.

On her part, Bethlehem Kebede, Gender and Human Rights Programme Specialist with UNFPA, underlined that different sectors need to work together in an integrated manner to bring about sustainable results in the fight against gender-based violence.

The safe house provides a comprehensive service of psychological support, shelter, meal, medication counselling, and basic literacy education to survivors of violence. The survivors are referred to the safe house by law enforcement bodies and Women and Children Affairs Offices. During their stay in the safe house the survivors are given various skills and vocational training as well as counselling to enable them cope better when they leave.

The four safe houses operated by AWSAD in the country – including the new one opened in Dessie Town – support hundreds of women and girls each year. AWSAD also provides capacity building trainings to government institutions like police and Women and Children Affairs Offices to provide quality services for women and girls.

The event saw the presence of different stakeholders composed of government offices, law enforcement agencies and civil society organizations.