Dili – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), with support from the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), conducted a validation workshop on July 27, 2023, for the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (GBViE) and Trafficking in Persons in Emergencies (TIPiE).
The Civil Protection Authority (CPA), as the mandated government institution responsible for disaster risk management and emergency response, welcomed the development of SOPs to prevent protection risks and protect vulnerable communities from GBV and TIP.
This workshop was part of a joint-regional project of IOM and UNICEF, Addressing Protection Risks in Humanitarian Settings in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea (Prevent and Protect). It aims to improve mechanisms and capacities of stakeholders to address protection risks in humanitarian settings, placing particular emphasis on women, children and migrants through strengthening community resilience, systems capacity, emergency coordination and protection monitoring throughout humanitarian response cycles.
Natural and anthropogenic hazards heighten the risk of injuries, loss of lives and damage to public infrastructure and houses/shelters. They also amplify protection risks, particularly concerning child protection, GBV and Human Trafficking. These risks disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, such as women and girls (due to threatened livelihoods, destroyed housing and lack of food supplies), migrants (when dislocated from the community and family support structures, often lacking access to legitimate forms of employment, legal status and social protection), youths, persons with disabilities and the elderly.
“Displacement settings can create an environment conducive to heightened protection issues. The breakdown of community and institutional protection mechanisms, along with disrupted services, infrastructure destruction, family separation and displacement, may lead to a rise in GBV and TIP rates,” said Ihma Shareef, IOM Chief of Mission in Timor-Leste. “These problems are deeply rooted in gender inequality and unequal power dynamics, which tend to escalate during emergencies.
The formulation of SOPs on GBViE and TIPiE was conducted through an inclusive and participatory process, engaging key stakeholders actively involved in emergency response in Timor-Leste. At the same time, IOM consulted with communities in border municipalities, including Oecussi, Bobonaro, Covalima and Lautem.
“The U.S. government, through USAID, stands with the people of Timor-Leste during disasters while at the same time building resilience for future ones,” said USAID Mission Director Zema Semunegus. “We all have a different role to play, and the U.S. government, through the BHA, hopes to play a role in realizing Timor-Leste’s leadership in achieving disaster resilience.”
“Together, we can be stronger to support the most vulnerable populations in emergencies. By working side-by-side, we can realize disaster resilience in the future for Timor-Leste,” said Supt. Ismael da Costa Babo, President of CPA.
With the validation of the SOPs, key stakeholders, especially CPA, have a necessary tool to strengthen national coordination and referral mechanisms to prevent protection risks and protect survivors of GBV and victims of trafficking in persons in emergencies.