Guterres calls for efforts to help victims of terrorism

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for efforts to help victims of terrorism.

In a message to the UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism, he called for progress on three fronts: recognition of victims and solidarity with them, accountability and victims’ access to justice, and a victim-centred approach to counter-terrorism, reports Xinhua news agency.

The unique needs of victims must be acknowledged through the granting of legal status. Their needs should be supported through comprehensive, gender-sensitive services, Guterres said in the message delivered by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.

Guterres is in Pakistan for a solidarity visit after last week’s horrendous flooding.

Accountability is key to healing and rehabilitation. This includes the recognition of the specific needs of women and girl victims, who may face challenges accessing justice due to underlying gender stereotypes, said the UN chief in the message.

“I urge all parties to respond to victims’ calls for transparency and information-sharing during the investigation of terrorist attacks,” he said.

This congress is a clarion call to keep victims front and centre in all counter-terrorism work, he said, encouraging member states to use this opportunity to recommit to promoting victims’ rights and supporting their needs — financial, legal, medical, and psychosocial.

“I call for a particular focus on the provision of mental health and psychosocial support services to victims and their communities, for as long as necessary,” he said.

Guterres noted that terrorism exacerbates poverty, political and economic instability, and climate change. It affects people of all ages and genders and from all cultures, religions, and nationalities. It is a direct threat to international peace and security. It also impedes sustainable development and undermines human rights and the rule of law.

Terrorism is frequently marked by sexual and gender-based violence and deepens gender inequality. And terrorism combines with other global crises, from climate change to the Covid-19 pandemic, to further marginalize vulnerable groups, he added.

For all these reasons, the UN is stepping up efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms, he said, adding: “this congress is a reaffirmation of our commitment to action. And together, we can and will defeat terrorism.”

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