Nepal | January 26, 2021

‘Respect rights of vulnerable people’

Himalayan News Service
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International partners, civil society and humanitarian organisations have been working together to support the Government of Nepal’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, read a joint press statement issued by United Nations, various embassies and international agencies in Nepal today.

According to the statement, all actors involved in the COVID-19 response need to respect the rights of all people, especially women and girls, youth, minorities and marginalised groups, to ensure that there is no discrimination, sexual exploitation and abuse while providing assistance at quarantine and isolation centres.

Those issuing the statement are Embassy of Australia, Department for International Development, Delegation of the European Union, Embassy of Finland, Embassy of France, Embassy of Germany, Embassy of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of Switzerland, United Nations in Nepal and US- AID.

Between March 11 and June 6 , as many as 624 cases of violence against women and girls were reported.

“There have been concerning allegations of sexual abuse in quarantine centres, places where women should feel safe to spend their quarantine before returning to their families and their community. We must have zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, we must treat every allegation seriously and pursue appropriate action to resolve it,” read the statement.

“In cases where sexual exploitation or abuse does occur, it is essential that victims have access to safe and confidential reporting channels and services, as well as to justice and legal remedy. When children are victims, the approach must consider the best interest of the child,” read the statement.

The UN, embassies and international agencies emphasised that protection from sexual exploitation and abuse must be integrated into the response to COVID-19 as a central part of coordinated humanitarian action and development assistance.

“We encourage everyone engaged in the COVID-19 response – government, private sector, civil society, communities, frontline workers, security forces and volunteers – to respect and protect those who are vulnerable and marginalised, and create a safe environment for both the service users and providers without fear of sexual exploitation and abuse,” read the statement.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 9, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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