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Malian women who have come to Niger as refugees, attend a meeting in Tiguizefane, Abala district, Niger, held by CRS to ask about refugee and host community needs and to explain what's going to be done. Credits: Jean-Philippe Debus/Catholic Relief Services

Malian women who have come to Niger as refugees, attend a meeting in Tiguizefane, Abala district, Niger, held by CRS to ask about refugee and host community needs and to explain what’s going to be done.
Credits: Jean-Philippe Debus/Catholic Relief Services

On World Refugee Day (20 June), Caritas says there needs to be better protection of the human rights of refugee women, especially in relief camps and in border areas.

In Africa, women refugees live for extended periods in overcrowded sites where life is harsh. They lack access to basic items such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Women can easily become victims of all forms of violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.

In industrialised countries, women asylum seekers face unduly prolonged detention and forced return, as well as restricted access to social or medical systems, combined with limited access to the regular employment market.

The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR says the world will see increasing numbers of refugees during the next 10 years as the factors causing mass population flight grow. They include climate change, population growth, urbanisation, food insecurity, water scarcity and resource competition.

Finding durable solutions to refugee situations is a major challenge with returning refugee numbers are declining and 70 percent of the refugees having been displaced from their homes for more than five years.

Caritas urged the international community to commit to durable solutions for all refugees, including safe repatriation, local integration and expanded resettlement options.

Equally important is access to information and justice to defend basic human rights and human dignity.

Caritas monitors the implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and promotes the ratification of other international instruments to protect women refugees.

It’s crucial to build capacity within civil society on how to take legal action, providing qualitative legal counselling and representation and provide know-your-rights trainings to refugees.

In addition human rights violations at borders, especially violations of the non- refoulement principle, need to be legally challenged.

Non-refoulement is a principle laid down in the 1951 Refugee Convention by which no party to the Convention should return somebody to the frontiers of a country where his life and freedom would be threatened.

Caritas advocates for alternatives to detention of asylum seekers, which is meant to be used only as a last resort.