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Biden Bill to Protect Women and Children Ravaged by War and Disaster Passes Key Senate Committee

Location: Washington, DC

Biden Bill to Protect Women and Children Ravaged by War and Disaster Passes Key Senate Committee

Late yesterday, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) that will better protect women and children displaced by war and disaster and subjected to violence and sexual exploitation.

"Women and children all over the world are suffering the ravages of war and natural disasters," said Senator Biden. "These people are being forced to leave their homes out of fear for their lives and the lives of their children, and often, when they make it to refugee camps, instead of being protected, they are brutalized and sometimes raped. Best case scenario, they lack the basic necessities of food, water and medical supplies.

"I have been concerned about the vulnerabilities of women and children affected by humanitarian emergencies for some time now. Our assistance programs must go above and beyond providing the things necessary to keep body and soul together; they must also help people live with dignity until they can return to their homes."

Specifically, the legislation will:

• Establish a fund specifically for protection activities so that aid organizations do not have to choose between making women and children safe from sexual exploitation and abuse, and providing food and shelter materials;

• Require the Secretary of State to designate a Protection Coordinator who will monitor the actions being taken by U.S. field missions to prepare for and respond to the needs of women and children affected by emergencies; and • Prohibit U.S. tax dollars from being channeled through relief agencies that do not sign a Code of Conduct prohibiting improper relationships between humanitarian workers and aid recipients.

The bill now heads to the floor for consideration by the full Senate.

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