In view of the increasing awareness of the need for action, WHO, with UNICEF and UNFPA, on behalf of UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict, convened a technical meeting on responding to the psychosocial and mental health needs of conflict-related sexual violence survivors. The meeting was held in France from 28-30 November 2011 and twenty-nine people from 16 countries attended, representing a range of multilateral agencies, academic institutions, international NGOs, and independent practitioners. The meeting aimed to review existing evidence and experiences and propose preliminary policy, programme and research recommendations.
Six intervention experiences were presented during the meeting, covering Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nepal, Sri Lanka, Syria, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Sierra Leone. Meeting participants agreed on key areas for action, categorised into community-focused and person-focused interventions, and prioritised according to commonly understood stages of humanitarian response. These areas and recommendations are detailed in the report.
As the report concludes, although the information base is weak, the demand for action is very strong. This imperfect situation demands action to intervene. The humanitarian community should scale up mental health and psychosocial supports for conflict-related sexual violence following accepted best practice while simultaneously conducting research and programme evaluations.