Safe Haven: Sheltering Displaced Persons from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence - Case Study: Haiti

Date published
01 May 2013
Research, reports and studies
Conflict, violence & peace, Gender, Protection, human rights & security, Shelter and housing, Shelter, Urban


As part of its Sexual Violence Program, the Human Rights Center conducted a one-year study in 2012 to explore and improve understanding of the options for immediate, temporary shelter for refugees, internally displaced persons, and other migrants fleeing sexual and gender-based violence in countries affected by conflict or natural disaster. We define “shelter” flexibly. For example, it may come in the form of a traditional safe house, a network of community members’ homes, or another safe space coordinated by a base organization.
Our aim was to generate research-based evidence to inform donors, policymakers, and international and local actors about types of relevant models, priority challenges, and promising practices.5 The study focused on three key objectives:
1. Identify and describe shelter models available to refugees, the internally displaced, and migrants fleeing sexual and gender-based violence.
2. Identify unique challenges experienced by staff and residents in these settings and explore strategies to respond to these challenges.
3. Explore protection needs and options for particularly marginalized victim groups, such as male survivors, sexual minorities, sex workers, and people with disabilities.
The aim and objectives were the same across each of the studies carried out in Colombia, Haiti, Kenya, and Thailand. Our research focused primarily on programs that served communities of refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), including those operating in a camp setting. We also studied mainstream shelters to identify protection options and innovations in urban settings.
Study outputs include four country-specific reports and one comparative assessment that contain guiding considerations for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other stakeholders involved in the provision of protection to these populations.