31 March 2011The United Nations envoy on sexual violence in conflict today underlined the role of the African leadership in combating sexual violence in the continent, and welcomed the commitment expressed by the African Union (AU) to ensure that the problem is eradicated. “The scourge of sexual violence traverses all of geography and history. But without the political leadership of Africa, we will not succeed in eradicating this international crime,” said Margot Wallström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.“It is essential that the commitment expressed by the AU Peace and Security Council also translates into concrete actions,” Ms. Wallström said in a statement two days after addressing a session of the AU Peace and Security Council dedicated to the issue of women and children affected by armed conflict.She also welcomed the AU’s decision to appoint a Special Representative on Women, Peace and Security and pledged her support for the envoy, who will serve as a point of contact to strengthen AU-UN partnership on the issue.“Some practical areas for such cooperation include ensuring that sexual violence is reflected consistently in curricula of the major peacekeeping training institutes in Africa, and in the training programmes of all African troop-contributing countries,” said Ms. Wallström.She lauded the decision to deploy advisers to AU peacekeeping and political missions to ensure that women, peace and security concerns are consistently reflected in monitoring and reporting, mediation efforts, and in peace processes and agreements, and commended the AU’s support for the appointment of more women as Special Representatives and its support for women’s involvement in peace processes.“In order to ensure concerted action, I strongly encourage the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council to include conflict-related sexual violence as an item on the agenda of their annual meeting,” Ms. Wallström added.
A spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement that the Secretary-General was “gratified by the solidarity being shown by the international community in the response to this tragic event,” and reiterated the UN’s commitment to assist in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.Meanwhile, the Washington-based Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said today it was working closely with the Peruvian authorities in response to the earthquake. PAHO disaster experts had arrived in Peru on Sunday and were supporting Ministry of Health and Civil Defence authorities in assessing needs, evaluating damages, and providing health services to the population.According to PAHO, which serves as the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), water was now distributed by tanker trucks in Moquegua, the most affected city, where the water and sewage systems had collapsed.The Peruvian Ministry of Health’s disaster programme was meeting today to draw up a list of necessary supplies and medicines, and with support from PAHO was sending experts in hospital equipment and infrastructure evaluation to Arequipa, Tacna and Moquegua, whose hospitals had been damaged by the earthquake. According to PAHO, the earthquake left some 70 dead, 1,200 injured and about 10,000 homeless.