Private shelter in rural Haiti
(IntLawGrrls welcomes this post from contributor Kim Thuy Seelinger in honor ofWorld Refugee Day)
People who flee their homes to escape sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) often have few options for immediate, temporary housing. Their need for emergency shelter usually outstrips supply even in well-resourced urban centers in the United States, Europe, and Canada. Even more vulnerable are victims swept up in conflicts and natural disasters. In many refugee camp settings, provision of specialized emergency shelter falls to the overall camp management – often the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or large international humanitarian organizations. In some cases, private donors may fund ad hoc SGBV shelters, as well, operating autonomously and sometimes with more goodwill than guidance.  
Unique challenges
Many of the challenges that arise in these insecure and resource-limited settings are extreme and unique. In addition to severe resource constraints and both internal and external security threats, camp settings also present challenges related to utter lack of privacy – both of individuals and of spaces or structures. It is often impossible to have a “secret” safehouse location. Moreover, transition options are far more limited: a survivor being released from a shelter may have slim relocation or resettlement chances; she may have to return to the same tent or hut she inhabited before fleeing. Without legal status or the ability to move freely within a host country, it is virtually impossible for a refugee survivor of SGBV to fully escape or start a new life.


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