A total of 41 cases of sexual and gender based violence were reported in all four refugee camps scattered in Ghana in 2016, a figure being the highest recorded so far, indicating an increase in such violence.

These camps are the Fetentaa, Egyeikrom, Krishna and Ampain, the Ghana Refugees Board (GRB) has announced.

The Board has noted that a total of 27 of the cases reported involved adult victims while 14 of the victims were less than 18 years, comprising 35 females and six males.

However in 2015, 17 sexual violence cases with seven of them involving children survivors were reported among persons of concern living in the refugee camps located in the Western and Central Regions. The Fetentaa Camp did not record any cases that year.

Addressing a stakeholders’ forum to mark World Refugee Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict in Accra, Ms Doris Tagoe, Eligibility and Protection Officer of the GRB, who made the disclosure said all the perpetrators of the violence crime were refugees living in those camps.

She said adjudicating of those cases had received slow response coupled with challenges with the legal representation and the existing legal aid services.

The GRB in collaboration with Hope For Future Generations (HFFG) and the Palladium, both non-governmental organisations, organised the stakeholders’ forum to discuss the trend of sexual violence in the country.

Participants were updated on the current state of domestic/gender based violence in the country and what could be done to address the problem.

The main event for the Refugee day was commemorated at Ampian Refugee Camp in the Western Region, with activities including officials inspecting UNHCR funded health centre recently handed over to the government, and unveiling of the intelsat-sponsored WiFi kiosk, which provides free internet access to refugees and nationals living around the Ampian camp.

There was also an interactive distance learning programme for refugee children.

The day was also commemorated in all other refugee camps in the Central, Western and Brong Ahafo Regions.

Currently in Ghana, there are 13, 236 refugees from 34 countries of origin within and beyond Africa.

Ms Tagoe said a lot more needed to be done in the area of justice delivery for victims of sexual violence, especially, for refugee victims.

She said most of the victims’ legal representation to courts remained a challenge because the existing legal aid services and pro bono lawyers require some fees, including transportation to courts and the preparatory steps for the proceedings.

“Sexual violence is the gross abuse of the human rights of the individual. One of the means by which this human right abuse can be prevented is by ensuring justice for victims.

As the GRB and HFFG mark World Refugee Day and the International Day of Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we join hands in solidarity with refuges around the world.

“We reiterate the call on all stakeholders, especially those involved in the judicial and justice process to double their efforts towards justice delivery in the elimination of all forms of sexual violence in our society,” Ms Tagoe said.

On her part, Mrs Cecilia Senoo, Executive Director of HFFG, said the day for the elimination of sexual violence in conflict was set aside a year ago, to raise awareness on the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence, and to honour the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world.

She said, however, data obtained from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service and hospitals across the country indicated that reported cases of sexual violence including domestic violence, rape, human trafficking, forced marriage, and defilement were still increasing in many communities across the country with women, girls, and children being the most affected.

Mrs Senoo said various media report monitored indicated that within the last 365 days, there had been more than 50 sexual violence related cases reported.

She named perpetrators as including pastors, teachers, husbands, doctors, parents and other personalities in positions of trust.

“So the purpose of todays’ gathering is to create awareness and call on law enforcement and judiciary to urgently do something about the situation”, she said.

“As an organisation we have come to the realisation that in order for us to achieve desirable change in society, we the non-state actors would have to work together with state actors as well as the media as partners. It is our hope that we would all play our respective roles to end sexual violence”, Mrs Senooo noted.

GNA