Offering safety to survivors of sorcery accusation related violence

Survivors of sorcery accusation related violence have a small but strong beacon of hope that has fostered their journey to recovery, from initial relief and holistic care to reintegration into their communities.

August 31, 2022

Lookout towards Wabag Township.

Clive Hawigen | UNDP Papua New Guinea

Since the beginning of 2022, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its partner Catholic Diocese of Mendi, has reached over 1,000 people through 17 awareness programmes on sorcery accusation related violence (SARV) in Southern Highlands Province.

Responding to the grave human rights violations resulting from SARV, the Catholic Diocese of Mendi actively advocates against SARV and provides post-violence victim recovery support through a safe house – the House of Hope.

In 2022, the House of Hope responded to the needs of 24 survivors (23 women and 1 man) through the provision of emotional, physical, and material assistance to restore the dignity and promote recovery and empowerment of survivors while also working with perpetrators on behavioural change, reintegration of survivors, and reconciliation within communities.

Survivors also received economic assistance in the form of livelihood projects, housing materials and semi-formal employment. Community reintegration is a vital part of the holistic approach to recovery by responding to survivors’ needs while post-reintegration visits continue to be conducted to check in on survivors.

“Responding to sorcery accusation related violence must address both the needs of survivors as well as changing mindsets about the use of violence. Only by rejecting outright the use of violence can we prevent such abuses of human rights from recurring. UNDP remains committed to supporting local responses to inter-communal conflicts and sorcery accusation related violence in the Highlands,” said UNDP Officer in Charge, Mr Edward Vrkic.

UNDP’s ongoing support to SARV survivors is supported by the United Kingdom Government’s Pacific Conflict, Stability and Security Fund Programme and is being implemented within the framework of UN Highlands Joint Programme for Peace and Development (HJP). The HJP is the UN’s flagship peace building programme in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, supporting the creation of peaceful and enabling conditions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.