In September 2020, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a pilot project under its assistance mandate in the Central African Republic (CAR). Pending the launch of the full assistance programme, the pilot project is to support victims and their families in Bangui, living in precarious conditions and suffering long-term harm as a result of sexual violence in conflict.
Mama Koite Doumbia, Chair of the TFV Board of Directors, said,
"I am very pleased that the Trust Fund for Victims is now providing assistance to a first group of victims in the Central African Republic. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the victims remain in our hearts and minds. It has been the ardent and long-standing wish of myself and my fellow Board members to act in support of the most vulnerable victims in CAR, especially those suffering from the consequences of sexual violence in conflict. It is our role and moral duty to provide access to the services and support that they and their families need to rebuild their lives and to regain their dignity. The Board's gratitude goes to the Government of CAR for their interest and support to our assistance activities."
The pilot project aims to contribute towards improving the socio-economic situation, and to the rehabilitation of the mental and physical health of the most vulnerable victim survivors. It has six major elements: i) medical care for pathological diseases associated with HIV/Aids; ii) access to food security and nutritional support; iii) access to psychological care; iv) access to education for dependants; v) access to housing for homeless victims; vi) assistance with income-generating activities.
The pilot project has a value of €250,000, fully funded from an earmarked voluntary contribution by the Government of the Netherlands. The TFV selected Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), an Italian organisation active in the country since 1974, as the implementing partner for the pilot project.
Hervé Severin Lidamon - a spokesperson for the victims group AVED - said,
"We express our gratitude to all those who contributed from near and far in bringing this project to life. Although we cannot meet all the needs of all the survivors, we believe that the project will make a significant contribution to restoring dignity and giving hope to the surviving victims."
The pilot project is the first outcome of the TFV's rigorous assessment procedure, involving extensive consultation with victims, their representatives, the Government of CAR and a wide range of national and international actors providing rehabilitation services in CAR. An earlier initiative of the TFV to launch an assistance programme in CAR was stopped short in 2013, due to the deteriorating security situation.
TFV Executive Director, Pieter de Baan said, "Neither the precarious security situation in CAR nor the COVID-19 pandemic is diminishing the commitment of the Trust Fund for Victims to stand by and engage with victims of sexual violence in conflict and other international crimes. The development of the TFV's assistance activities in CAR has felt to take more time than desired, as it was affected by our capacity constraints and by local security concerns. The selection of our partners has required a great deal of care and time, as well. The pilot project in Bangui is preceding the full programme, for which we continue to build partnerships and seek donor support. Victims have shown incredible courage and resilience in their plight. I salute them, and their representatives, for their willingness to share their stories of harm and hope with the TFV's representatives. My deep appreciation goes to colleagues at the ICC's Registry in Bangui and in The Hague, for their tremendous support in helping the Fund shape this pilot and the upcoming assistance programme."
Upon conclusion of the regulatory notification procedure with Pre-Trial Chamber II on 8 October 2020, the TFV will engage in the coming months with the five selected partners to start the implementation of the assistance programme in CAR.
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