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A UNFPA supported safe house run by the Women Association of Tigray was launched today in the City of Mekele, in the Tigray Regional State. The safe house set up in a building made available by the Women Association of Tigray will be supporting women and girls who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Fana Hagos, President of the High Court of the Tigray Regional State, said that the opening of the safe house was an expression of solidarity with the survivors of violence that the justice system is with them. She added that it was also one way to hold the government to count by the civil society sector on the delivery of justice to survivors. She called on the Government of Canada and UNFPA to continue supporting the effort.

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 the Women and Children Affairs Office. 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 safe house is part of the programme on preventing and responding to Sexual and Gender Based Violence supported by the Government of Canada, said Evelyne Dabire, First Secretary of Development Cooperation and Team Lead on Gender Equality and Governance at the Embassy of Canada. She expressed Canada’s commitment to support efforts to address sexual and gender-based violence underlining the need for partners to work together.  

On her part, Bethlehem Kebede, Gender and Human Rights Programme Specialist with UNFPA, said that ending gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls is one of the transformative results UNFPA pursues to realize the goals of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She reaffirmed the Fund’s commitment to strengthen partnership with stakeholders in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence using culturally sensitive and human rights based approaches.

With funding secured from the Government of Canada UNFPA is striving to increase access to services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, including psychosocial counselling, legal assistance, provision of shelter and medical care. To help survivors recover emotionally and become self-reliant and to facilitate the ongoing process of physical and emotional healing, training are also provided on income generating activities to help survivors earn income by establishing partnerships and referral linkages.

The Government of Canada granted UNFPA more than 14 million Canadian Dollars to support a five-year Programme entitled "Preventing and Responding to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence" which will be implemented in selected districts in all Regions in Ethiopia. The programme is supporting comprehensive and integrated services on sexual and gender-based violence and sexual & reproductive health and rights.
The UNFPA supported safe houses operated by implementing partners across the country – including the new one opened in the City of Mekele – rehabilitate hundreds of women and girls each year.

The launching event of the safe house was attended by various stakeholders including government offices, law enforcement bodies, civil society organizations and faith based organizations.