UN Women and Partner’s work in rehabilitating CRSV Survivor-Displaced Women is showing Promising Results


“I had to leave with my son, leaving my belongings, my home, because the conflict was intensifying. Raped by soldiers, I was fearing for my life. I came to the camp 3 years ago. There was little support for us there. My son couldn’t go to school because the camp only accommodates primary school."

These are words of Almaz Alemu1, 45, who was living in a small town close to Mekelle, Tigray when the northern Ethiopia conflict erupted. She used to make a living by selling food and drinks from a small place she owned. She left the place she called home for 7 years and joined other displaced people to live in “Qebero Meda Camp”, a Camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), in Gonder, Amhara region.

Almaz prepares the traditional coffee to serve her customers.




“I had to leave with my son, leaving my belongings, my home, because the conflict was intensifying. Raped by soldiers, I was fearing for my life." Almaz Alemu, CRSV survivor supported by UN Women and partner’s project.

Almaz was one of the 245 women reached by Good Samaritan Association’s project that provides comprehensive rehabilitation services to women and girl survivors that have experienced Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) and supported by UN Women Ethiopia. The survivors got counseling services and basic business skills training in a shelter run by GSA. Almaz was also provided with small grant to start business.

“I got seed capital to start a small business selling food, coffee, and tea. I started working here 8 months ago and slowly started to earn for sustenance, I am thankful for that. I now live outside the camp with my son, sending him to middle school. I hope to expand my business and get back to the life I used to have before the war” She spoke.

Like Almaz, Tigist Abebe was living in Tigray for 12 years, owning a restaurant there before she was displaced and came to the IDP center in Gonder. She spoke: “I lost everything, including my self-worth, when I was raped. I endured dark, depressing days for the sake of my son. The situation in the camp didn’t help. We were living in a small tent with 16 people we had never met before. The food aid was sporadic and small. I resorted to sex work to survive and feed my son."

According to Tigist, the training opportunity came at critical moment. She stayed at GSA shelter for a month with other displaced women, went through individual and group counseling as well as basic life and business skills training. She also got funding to start business of selling food and drinks. “I am now sending my son to school and live in a house I rented outside the camp. I hope to build my capital and get a bigger place” she concluded.

Survivors at GSA shelter in Gonder, Amhara region, attending training.

“With the current inflation, the 15,000 ETB seed money provided is not enough to start a decent business. We also do not have a day care center, we couldn’t accept women with children (except infants) hence limiting access. The number of women provided with rehabilitation services is not enough given number of survivors in IDP camps.” said Wz Seble Gebreegziabher, head of GSA’s Shelter in Gondar, speaking of the challenges the organization faces in an effort to rehabilitate CRSV survivors.

The project provides psychosocial support, medical checkups, life, and basic business skills training at the shelter. Counseling, integral part of rehabilitation effort for CRSV survivors is being provided in partnership with Gondar university.

Birtukan Taye, a lecturer at Gondar University’s psychology department, who gives counseling for survivors as a volunteer, noted that given the rampant CRSV happened during the conflict, the University has taken the initiative to support survivors through volunteerism.

“We mostly do group counseling; we try to show them that they are not alone and this is not end of their lives. They build a sense of community as they are also living together in the camp.

These women wanted to be heard, to tell their stories, to be free of judgement they mostly face from the public, to know that it wasn’t their fault that they were sexually violated. I am happy that I can give that to them” said Birtukan of the counseling work they do.

Birtukan, volunteer counselor and Gondar University staff on supporting CRSV survivors.





“We counsel them on how to move on and get their lives together again. We see the difference after counseling.”

Ato Abraham Kenaw, Women, Children, Social Affairs expert for Azezo district of Gondar noted that the support UN Women and GSA are providing is already showing promising results for the women to start earning a living doing small businesses. Despite how small the starting capital was, they are making good progress.

Ato Abraham Kenaw, Women, Children, Social Affairs expert for Azezo district of Gondar.



“We try to prioritize among IDP women looking at those in dire conditions since the number of women in need is high and we cannot accommodate all. We do not think the support these women are getting is enough. We need more resources in terms of increasing starting capital, which currently isn’t sufficient. Getting a place to work at is also difficult, rent being expensive for those who are just starting business.”

UN Women partnered with Good Samaritan Association for the implementation of a project entitled “Provision of Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services for Survivors of GBV Among Internally Displaced People in the Amhara Region” in March 2022. The project focuses on the rehabilitation of internally displaced women and girls survivors of violence who are affected by the conflict, migrant returnees and victims of trafficking through enhancing access to holistic rehabilitation and reintegration services.

A total of 245 women and girls benefited from the services including psycho-social support, temporary shelter, training opportunities and creating linkage with credit associations and reintegration. The project also supported institutional strengthening and capacity development of national and local institutions to respond to violence against women and girls through provision of capacity building trainings to service providers.

1Name changed for privacy.