One of the greatest travesties of the worst drought crisis facing the region in more than a half century isn’t what we can see, and it won’t be resolved when the famine is over. A recent survey funded by the U.K.’s Department for International Development of 100 girls and women in the Dadaab refugee camp of northern Kenya shows that their greatest concern is avoiding rape and kidnapping. Somali and Kenyan girls have become the victims of sexual violence on a frightening scale. The most vulnerable are girls under the age of 15.
The problem here is not just that girls are not being protected. Or that girls are not being supported. The real issue is that girls simply are not seen. They are not valued. But this is not unique to refugee camps, or to this crisis. If we want to address this crisis, we need world leaders and the aid industry to think beyond food aid and temporary shelter. We need to think about how we’re going to prevent crises in the future.