UK peer Baroness Anelay arrives in Kenya for defence and sexual violence prevention talks

Raychelle Omamo and Joyce Anelay
Raychelle Omamo and Joyce Anelay meet in Kenya. Photo: Twitter/JoyceAnelay

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister of State for Foreign, Baroness Joyce Anelay of St Johns, has arrived in Kenya for defence talks and see first-hand the support provided by the UK on preventing sexual violence, strengthening human rights and delivering humanitarian aid.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit the region and see first-hand the work of the UK to tackle sexual violence and support survivors of these atrocious crimes.

“This visit comes at an important time. Preventing sexual violence, ending the culture of impunity and ending survivor stigma remain top priorities for the UK. I am proud of the 17 Peace Support Training Centres that the UK has provided for training across the African continent since 2001.

“I look forward to seeing the impact of our work. The UK is a friend and close partner of the region. We will continue to work together on shared challenges and opportunities.”

– Baroness Anelay speaking ahead of her visit to Kenya

During her trip, Baroness Anelay will be meeting government representatives to discuss regional security and peacekeeping, as well as visiting the British Peace Support Team (East Africa). She will also host a number of events with civil society, human rights defenders and members of the judiciary during her time in Africa which will also include time in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Her day began with what she described as a “productive meeting” with the Cabinet Secretary for Defence Raychelle Omamo. Speaking via her Twitter account, she said she welcomed “our strong defence cooperation, including on bringing stability to Somali.”

Later, she paid a visit to BPST (East Africa ) who are delivering teaching courses to police and security personnel from across the region on mechanisms for prevention and response to SGBV.

This year alone, 9,500 military, police and civilians from across the region will be trained in specialist areas ranging from Protection of Civilians/Human Rights, through numerous types of tactical training to high-end Weapons Technical Intelligence and Counter-IED courses. BPST(EA)’s current primary focus is pre-deployment and in-mission training for troops making up the AU force in Somalia – AMISOM – prioritising those niche areas which are requested by regional militaries as enabling them to fight more effectively. The team also provides limited Counter Illegal Wildlife Trade training in security specific areas to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania wildlife agencies.

In Uganda, the Minister will visit a refugee settlement to see UK humanitarian support in action, meet survivors of sexual violence in Gulu refugee camp, and visit a gender-based violence shelter in Kampala. Despite the conflict in Northern Uganda ending over a decade ago, stigma suffered by survivors continues to impact many aspects of their lives, including access to jobs and community services. In collaboration with organisations such as the Refugee Law Project and World Vision, the UK supports a number of projects in Uganda which help provide both physical and psychological support to survivors of sexual violence and children born of rape.

Before she travels to Burundi itself, in Rwanda the Minister will meet with Burundian human rights defenders in exile, independent media and NGO partners delivering UK projects. In Burundi, the Minister will meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN, AU and EU representatives to discuss how international partners can best work with the Burundian Government to support inclusive dialogue and bring a resolution to the protracted political crisis.

Whilst in Burundi, Baroness Anelay will also visit Centre SERUKA, which provides services for survivors of sexual violence. The UK provides support to a number of initiatives across Burundi, empowering women to prevent and address the impact of sexual violence. These initiatives reduce stigmatisation, promote the role of women in peace building and support faith and community leaders to investigate incidences of sexual violence.