UN SVC Presentation, Refugee Law Project

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On 30 October 2019, I travelled to the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the 10th Anniversary of the Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. I happen to live in New York City, so it was not difficult for me to sign up for a UN pass and get to the meeting room on time. I travelled with two students, who were undertaking school projects on male survivors of all forms of conflict-related sexual violence.

We decided to go along to meet and support the Refugee Law Project, who had been invited to speak during the meeting and had traveled to New York from Uganda. As we gathered to catch up on news of their work in Uganda, we were introduced to a male survivor of confict-related sexual violence who was now living in the USA. I learnt that he had taken time off work and paid for his own flights, accomodation & expenses, so he could attend the UN's 10th Anniversary to support his peers who had been invited to testify. This action struck me as being an incredibly powerful testiment to the strong bonds established within the three male survivor-led support groups in Uganda; bonds that grow stronger over time and remain, even when their peers have been granted asylum and relocated to distinct localities across the USA, Canada, Sweden et al.

One big takeaway from meeting the male survivors at the UN event, was their very practical shopping list of things that would greatly assist their Men of Hope Refugee Association Uganda and also their international network of peers. During our conversations, it became apparent that assisting male survivors and their families, who wish to share their knowledge and advocate for all their peers still left behind without appropriate medical and psychosocial interventions or a means to earn a livelihood, requires access to a budget for travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses. It is a challenge for male survivors to have their voices heard when they cannot afford to travel to meetings and also have little access to basic technologies to write up and disseminate their knowledge and research.

Despite their pioneering work, there still remains a tremendous need for support to support their survivor-led support groups (even small grants of $1,000 go a long way, in both a practical sense but also in signalling to survivors that other people consider their work to be important). Another helpful way to assist is by providing the support groups with laptops and virtual meeting technologies, so they will be able to extend their existing and powerful survivor support groups to include their regional and international peers, and to more easily participate in guiding first responders and policymakers in their collective journies forward. If you are willing and able to respond and support the Men of Hope Refugee Association Uganda in any or all of these ways, please do not hesitate to contact the Refugee Law Project. Thank you!

As an extension to the conversations presented and had over the busy one day meeting at the United Nations, some of the voices heard are posted below; and more will be posted as they are shared with us. Together they provide a snapshot of the extent of the challenges faced by male survivors and their families, and of the remarkable work survivor-led groups have been undertaking over the past 10 years to raise awareness and undertake outreach in the communities surrounding their lives. 

Dr. Rachel Bardhan (Director, Real Stories Gallery Foundation)

Dr. Chris Dolan (Director, Refugee Law Project, Uganda) and Mr. Aime Moninga (President, Men of Hope Refugee Association Uganda) speaking at the United Nations 10th Anniversary of the Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

 
 

 

 

 

Here, we have shared two of the interviews, conducted by 18 year old student as part of his Marymount Manhattan College project, when he attended the UN's Sexual Violence in Conflict 10th Anniversary event on October 30, 2019 in New York.

Mr. David Ongwech. Head of Gender & Sexuality, Refugee Law Project, Uganda. The interview provides a young student an overview of the complexities involved in responding appropriately to male survivors of all forms of sexual violence, and how these responds impact the lives of survivors' families seeking peace and security.

 

Ms. Devota Nuwe. Head of Programming, Refugee Law Project, Uganda. The interview highlights why it is important to provide services for male and female survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. 

"I stand before you today to defend all those who do not have a voice," Mr. Aime Moninga



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