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Malawi, 14 March 2017: Countess of Wessex visits UNICEF project

© UNICEF Malawi/2017/Gumulira
UNICEF Deputy Representative, Roisin De Burca (right), greets the Countess of Wessex at the Lilongwe Police Victim Support Unit.

LILONGWE, Malawi, 14 March 2017 – The Countess of Wessex GCVO Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones visited the Lilongwe Police Victim Support Unit – a model Police victim support unit where UNICEF with support from UK Aid has been implementing a child protection programme aimed at reducing violence against vulnerable people specifically women and children and increasing access to quality justice services.

The Countess of Wessex accompanied by the UNICEF Deputy Representative, Roisin de Burca, the British High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett, and the Deputy Inspector General of the Malawi Police, Rodney Jose, was briefed on the work that UNICEF has implemented through the Malawi Police Service since 2012.

The work done includes the training of over 400 child protection officers within the Malawi Police Service to provide quality service to victims of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. The Malawi Police Service has also been instrumental in promoting the safe schools programme resulting in a 40 per cent reduction in sexual violence amongst girls as well as strengthening of community structures to timely detect and report cases of abuse. The project also led to the establishment of partnerships with faith based organizations to support efforts aimed at ending child marriages and abuse against children.

© UNICEF Malawi/2017/Gumulira
UNICEF Deputy Representative Roisin de Burca (right) explaining to the Countess of Wessex on the left on how UNICEF implemented the child protection programme in cooperation with the Malawi Police service.

“We are encouraged by the significant increase in women and children using the Malawi Police Victim Support Units, demonstrating the value of the service,” Head of DFID Malawi, Jen Marshall said. “We know that gender-based violence is a major challenge in Malawi. Moving forward, the UK aims to invest in prevention of gender-based violence while continuing to support improvements in the quality of justice services for survivors”.

“All children have the right to live free from the threat of violence and abuse, which harms their mental, physical and emotional development,” UNICEF Malawi Deputy Representative Roisin De Burca said. “With support from UKAID, this programme has shown how we can make substantial progress in Malawi by giving the police the skills and resources they need to protect the survivors of violence and abuse.”

© UNICEF Malawi/2017/Gumulira
Some of the victims of child trafficking who interacted with the Countess of Wessex.

Lilongwe Police Victim Support Unit is a model Police Victim support unit equipped with counselling rooms, prosecutors room, interview rooms and hostels for victims of violence. The Centre is self-sustained as it operates a restaurant and a tuckshop through the seed money received at the time of its establishment. Currently, the Malawi Police Service provides victim support services in 364 police formations across the country. Of these only 86 stations have separate victim support unit offices.

During the visit to the station, the Countess of Wessex had an opportunity of privately meeting with three girls aged between 13 and 15 years who are victims of child trafficking for sexual exploitation. The Countess also met a 29 year old woman- a survivor of gender based violence who had her case with her husband successfully resolved through mediation by the Police Victim Support Unit.



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