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Pandemic threatening lives of refugee women, girls – UNHCR

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[FILES] The UNHCR headquarters are pictured before an interview with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in Geneva, Switzerland June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse<br />

The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is robbing many refugees, displaced, and stateless women and girls of their livelihoods and their future, and growing poverty is endangering the lives of many, the UN Refugee Agency has warned.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi gave the warning on Monday, the International Women’s Day.

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“The unprecedented socio-economic impacts of the pandemic are leaving many lives in peril.

“We are seeing extremely worrying increases in reports of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, forced marriages, child labour and adolescent pregnancies,’’ said Grandi.

Rising poverty is leading to increased tensions in homes and communities, and school closures.

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Beyond the growing risks of violence, abuse, sexual exploitation, and trafficking, all consequences of gender inequality, the pandemic’s effects are proving catastrophic on refugee girls’ education.

“Many girls are being forced to drop out of school and into work, sold off or married,’’ the UNHCR’s protection chief, Gillian Triggs, said.

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The UNHCR called for governments to pay attention to these risks and support the involvement and leadership of refugee, displaced, and stateless women in response and recovery plans.

Involving women and girls in decisions that impact their lives, families, and communities is essential to upholding their human rights, ensure their protection and support their empowerment, the agency said in a statement.

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