Oromia Times –

As the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict opens in London next week, thousands of miles away in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, sexual violence continues to be used as a weapon of war. Unfortunately this is a story that will barely receive any attention in the London Summit. The reason is simple: it’s carried out by the government of Ethiopia, one of the most important allies of the UK in the Horn of Africa.

The region is cut off from the world due to the Ethiopian government’s restrictions on the media. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is mandated to monitor international humanitarian law, is also banned from the region.

The evidence of widespread use of rape as a weapon of war in the region is based on research conducted by Ogaden Women Relief Association in the Ogaden and testimonies collected from the Ogaden refugees in Kenya. In Ogaden, there is no protection from rape and sexual assault for women and girls accused of sympathizing with the liberation movement.

Those who survive sexual violence still suffer profound trauma. The psychological terror is extreme and those who return home, often as rape victims, find hard to reintegrate into village life.

Furthermore, the restrictions on humanitarian organisations mean that there are no health services or other support mechanisms for the survivors of rape and sexual violence. Some of the survivors have to endure a dangerous journey through war-torn Somalia to reach overcrowded Somali refugee camps in Northern Kenya.

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