On December 10, on International Human Rights Day, the European Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) co-hosted an event addressing the issue of trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in conflict situations. The event marked the end of the global campaign ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’. Trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in conflict zones is particularly important to address as key challenges remain that make it difficult for women to gain protection; prosecution rates are low, protection laws are poorly implemented and extremist groups use sexual exploitation as a weapon of war. Representative of the UNODC at the event, Yatta Dakowah, stated that 72% of victims are female, indicating the need to address this issue from a gendered perspective.
In this week’s news highlights: UNHCR phases out food supply Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli; Libya will not receive boats from France; Sahara migration routes becoming more dangerous; Italian civil court rules refugee return to Libya is illegal; Italian coast guard and navy officials to stand trial; EU allegedly breaks law in external funding; MEPs urge to improve the situation for refugees in Greece; Member states need consensus on responsibility sharing; migrant farmworkers in Europe exploited; Tourists help stranded refugees; Attack on Eritrean artist; Prime minister of Sudan new chair IGAD; And New programme to help refugees move out of camps in Ethiopia.
The preamble of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, an instrument applicable to all member states of the European Union (EU) when implementing EU law, holds that “the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity,” centralising the idea that EU member states must protect human life. Yet, several Southern European Member States have criminalised search and rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea and charged the rescue operations with the criminal act of smuggling. Therefore, the operators face years in prison if convicted. At the same time, the EU has closed down its own SAR operations, relying on its deals with the Libyan coast guard to intercept boats.