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In Washington, D.C. – Theresa Wolters

Regional Coordinator, East Africa
(202) 828-5155

In Los Angeles – Margaret Aguirre


In Ethiopia - Dr. Messeret Shifferaw

Deputy Country Director
Telephone: 0116 63 89 86


International Medical Corps Launches Program to Combat Sexual and

Gender-Based Violence in Somali Refugee Camp

December 11, 2009, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – International Medical Corps is launching a
program to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) among Somali
refugees living in southeastern Ethiopia. The program, funded by the U.S. government’s
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), will build local capacity to
effectively prevent and manage cases of SGBV and sexual exploitation and abuse in
Boqolmayo, a camp of approximately 15,000 Somali refugees.

“The SGBV program comes at a critical time. The United Nations refugee agency estimates
that 60 people - most of them women and children - pour into Boqolmayo every day,” says
Dr. Messeret Shifferaw, International Medical Corps Deputy Country Director for Ethiopia.
“Resources are becoming increasingly strained and refugees have little opportunity to make a
living. The stress of refugee life often changes family dynamics, leaving households more
prone to SGBV. Limited resources can also expose women and children to sexual
exploitation because they have to travel outside the camp to find necessities like food and

The program uses a two-pronged approach to both prevent new and manage existing SGBV
cases. To prevent SGBV, International Medical Corps will train 200 refugee representatives,
including clan elders, religious leaders, and women’s associations, to mobilize their
communities against gender-based violence and sexual exploitation. To enable better
treatment, International Medical Corps will educate health, humanitarian, and social workers
on how to manage SGBV cases and provide the appropriate mental health support. The goal
is to mobilize at least a third of the refugee population against SGBV through this effort over
the next 12 months.

Since 2003, International Medical Corps has operated a multi-faceted program in more than
eight zones across three regions in Ethiopia, developing local capacities and delivering
services in HIV/AIDS and infectious disease, reproductive health, nutrition and psychosocial
support, maternal and child health, water and sanitation, and livelihood security. International
Medical Corps also runs SGBV awareness campaigns in the DOllo Odo Transit Center, the
reception point for all refugees coming into Ethiopia, and recently implemented a year-long
SGBV program in the northern Somali camps of Sheder, Kebrebeyah, and AwBare.

International Medical Corps (www.imcworldwide.org) is a global humanitarian, non-profit

organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through humanitarian
assistance and development programs. In the past 25 years, International Medical Corps has
delivered more than $969 million in assistance to millions of people in more than 50
countries around the world.