Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday voiced concern over the impact of COVID-19 on survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages through regions of the world that are affected by armed conflict, survivors of sexual violence confront even greater challenges, said Guterres in a video message for the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, which falls on June 19.

Reporting crimes may be difficult; shelters and clinics may be closed, he noted. “I commend front-line staff who are finding ways to support those affected despite lockdowns and quarantines.”

Sexual violence in conflict is a brutal crime, mainly perpetrated against women and girls, but also affecting men and boys.

It reverberates throughout communities and societies, perpetuating cycles of violence and threatening international peace and security, said Guterres.

“On this International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we stand in solidarity with survivors.

We vow to listen to them and act on their experiences and decisions. We must prevent and end these crimes, place survivors at the center of our response, hold perpetrators accountable, and expand support for all those affected,” he said.

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