In October 2014, the International Rescue Committee (IRC)’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment Lebanon program began implementing an innovative mobile approach to gender-based violence response and mitigation service delivery in Akkar district. The IRC’s approach aims to reach non-camp based Syrian refugee women living within Lebanese communities with GBV case management and psychosocial support services.
The global number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people has reached an all-time high. As of 2014, 59.5 million people had been forcibly displaced as a result of conflict, violence, and human rights violations. This increase has been driven largely by the war in the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) which has resulted in 4.8 million refugees, over half of whom are female.
Only 10 percent of all registered Syrian refugees across the Middle East and North Africa live in camps, with the rest embedded in host communities in urban, peri-urban, and rural settings. In Lebanon, which now has the largest concentration of refugees per capita in the world, 18 percent of the displaced Syrian population lives in informal tented settlements, while the majority reside in houses and shelters in host communities.
In these settings, the risks to refugee women and girls are exceptionally high. The stress and vulnerability created by displacement and these circumstances can lead to physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including physical assault, verbal threats and intimidation, rape and early and forced marriage. Beyond physical injury, these experiences can cause depression, stress and anxiety, and reduced self-efficacy in survivors.
The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) collaborated with IRC to assess their approach to examine the extent to which the mobile approach is able to (1) meet the safety and support needs of refugee women and girls and (2) meet international standards to guarantee safety of GBV survivors and quality of services (including community engagement, safe spaces, a survivor-centered approach, safe referrals, confidentiality of services, and accessibility of services).