Victims of gender-based violence in South Sudan have been assisted with dignity kits, said a UN official on Monday.

Dr. Mary Otieno, the country representative of the UN Population Fund, handed over more than 18,000 dignity kits to the government of South Sudan.

“We are handing over a new delivery of more than 18,000 Dignity Kits worth $500,000 to the government through the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare,” Otieno said at the handing over on Monday in Juba.

Each kit contains culturally appropriate clothing and menstrual hygiene items such as reusable menstrual pads, underwear, soap, multi-purpose garment, a pair of slippers, t-shirt, and tote bag.

“The Dignity Kit is a signature feature of UNFPA’s comprehensive package of humanitarian assistance to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, including GBV [geder-based violence] risk mitigation and response and protecting the dignity of women and girls adversely affected by a crisis,” she said.

Otieno said the donation is part of a $3.4 million targeted amount to support the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A big component of our assistance will support over 200 health facilities across the country, including the provision of medical equipment and supplies, recruitment of additional midwives, and provision of personal protective equipment for health workers,” she said.

“Globally, there is an increasing evidence of a surge in gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, because of lockdowns and forced isolation being implemented in many countries. Since the start of this coronavirus crisis alone, the one-stop Centre here at Juba Teaching Hospital is already seeing a rising trend in reported GBV cases. For this period, the Centre has so far responded to 91 cases of GBV”.

The Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Ayaa Benjamin welcomed the support by saying most of the victims who are going to benefit are vulnerable people who cannot afford their needs on their own.

She urged survivors of GBV to pursue justice so that those who committed the crimes are punished and face justice.

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