Panafrican News Agency

UNHCR: COVID-19, climate crisis worsen inequalities for displaced women and girls

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - Conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are delivering a triple blow to the rights and safety of refugee, internally displaced and stateless women and girls, many of whom were already facing deep-rooted inequalities and discrimination, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.

She said two years into the pandemic, there are increased reports of gender-based violence, from domestic violence, forced marriages, child labour, to trafficking and exploitation.

In some contexts where families are hit by conflict, disaster, insecurity and spiraling poverty, girls are being taken out of school to work, beg, wed - and in the most extreme cases, to be sold, Ms. Triggs said in a statement on International Women's Day on Tuesday.

She said worsening socio-economic conditions aggravated by the pandemic mean displaced women and girls are among those hardest hit.

"Millions are dependent on precarious employment in the informal economy – earning less and yet spending more to sustain their families. They are at greater risk of poverty and exploitation," the statement said.

Ms. Triggs said gender inequality is both a root cause and a consequence of forced displacement, adding that women and girls living in humanitarian crises and armed conflicts are at heightened risk.

"We fear existing gender inequalities will only deepen from the impacts of climate change - from inequities in access to natural resources, legal rights, livelihood opportunities, formalised safety nets, technologies and information, and more."

Ms. Triggs urged governments, civil society and each of e everyone and communities to address gender inequality in all its forms and to support and promote the leadership, inclusion, and full participation of displaced women and girls.

-0- PANA MA 9March2021