Catholic Group Highlights Plight of Women on World Refugee Day

While people in at least 55 countries worldwide will be honoring their fathers Sunday, human rights and relief groups will be highlighting the plight of refugees in observance of World Refugee Day.

And while men are traditionally the focus on the third Sunday of every June, it is women who Caritas Internationalis is directing attention to this Sunday as they are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses as refugees.

"They (women) are more vulnerable to attacks as they frequently have to leave the [refugee] camps for basic supplies for their families, such as firewood and water," pointed out Martina Liebsch, Caritas's policy director .

"Women can become victims of violence in these camps," she noted.

To better protect women refugees, Caritas says providing better security in camps is essential, as well as making it easier for women to report acts of violence and have access to judicial procedures.

"Supporting livelihood programs for women is a key factor," added Liebsch. "By giving a woman the ability to provide for herself and her family in a secure environment, they will not be forced to take risks by going outside camp."

Caritas says that practical experience in refugee camps in Benin, West Africa, shows that providing leadership roles for women improves their security. It gives them a say in how camps are run and having voice raises their profile, the Catholic organization added.

What can also reduce tensions are peace-building activities between the refugee and host community.

"The best way to provide security is to resolve crises itself so refugee can return home," remarked Liebsch. "Alternatives are supporting integration within the host community or resettling into another country. Achieving those means supporting skills training so people can create new lives for themselves."

Presently, there are more than 40 million people around the world who have been uprooted from their homes. From this, over ten million are of special concern to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). About seven million have been caught in crises of five years or longer.

World Refugee Day is observed every year on June 20.