Russia's war on Ukraine has caused enormous suffering for civilians, including civilian deaths, injuries and mass destruction, and has also been marred by incidents of conflict-related sexual violence.
Although conflict-related sexual violence is mostly perpetrated against women, OHCHR has verified cases of sexual violence against women, men and girls. Due to active hostilities, mass internal displacement, the stigma associated with sexual violence and the breakdown of the referral pathways, survivors are often unable or unwilling to report to law enforcement authorities or service providers. Reporting of cases for accountability purposes often takes place only after survivors are in physical and emotional safety and have access to services, including medical and psychological assistance.
Last month, the United Nations and the Government of Ukraine signed a framework for cooperation that supports the design and delivery of priority interventions in the areas of justice and accountability as a central pillar of deterrence and prevention.
The agreement also addresses comprehensive service provision for survivors, including sexual and reproductive health services, medical and specialised mental health services, legal assistance, and livelihood support.
UN Women will continue supporting national partners' efforts to raise awareness, and prevent conflict related sexual violence, especially within the frameworks of an updated National Action Plan on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
Following the survivor-centred approach and with strong UNFPA involvement, the online platform Aurora was launched last week. Aurora provides specialised psychotherapy for survivors of gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence. The platform provides remote specialised assistance for survivors in any part of Ukraine, including non-government-controlled areas and abroad.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we reiterate that conflict-related sexual violence is a crime under international human rights and humanitarian law. Adopting a survivor-centred approach to service provision, investigating and documenting all allegations, and ensuring accountability and justice is paramount. It's also of vital importance to create a safe environment and enhance gender-sensitive mechanisms that will enable and empower survivors to report such violations without fearing of being discriminated against, stigmatised or blamed.
UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani