UN High Commission for Refugees on Wednesday expressed shock and sadness over Monday’s murder in Paphos of a 31-year-old Syrian mother who was stabbed at her home. Three of her children were at the house at the time.
“While the suspect, her estranged husband, is being sought and her children are placed under state custody, UNHCR calls the competent authorities to effectively address the shortcomings of the state support system for refugee women,” a written announcement said.
“And in particular those who are faced with domestic violence or other forms of gender-based violence. Becoming a refugee is always an ordeal, but for most women being a refugee is a double jeopardy,” it added.
Ghada Al Nouri was found dead by a social worker at her home at around 11.30 am.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for her estranged husband Hussein Farouh and have urged the public to come forward with any information that can help authorities track him down.
The UNHCR announcement also referred to the first encounter the Commission had with the victim during her stay at the Emergency Reception Center at Kokkinotrimithia upon her arrival to Cyprus almost one a half years ago.
She had embarked with her five children on a wooden boat from Lebanon, cramped with tens of other Syrian refugees, after fleeing the chaos in Idlib.
And after multiple attempts, she arrived in Cyprus and reunited with her husband, the announcement said.
“She had already been identified as a potential victim of domestic violence at that point and was subsequently referred to the responsible authorities to ensure her protection,” UNHCR added.
Meanwhile, several local NGOs provided counselling and support to the victim. She had repeatedly reported the abuse to the police and with the assistance of an NGO lawyer she had submitted her last complaint, after having received written death threats, on Friday January 10, 2020.
“Despite the grave risk, her husband who had consequently been remanded in custody, was released within 48 hours,” UNHCR said.
“Although she was finally offered to be hosted at a shelter for victims of violence, she was concerned about the ability to live there with her five children and was seeking assistance to relocate to another apartment, appropriate for her children and away from the perpetrator,” it added.
The UNHCR then stressed that protection of refugee women and girls is a core activity and an organizational priority for it.
And that it seeks to closely work with the government to ensure that the specific needs of refugee women are met by building upon their own resilience and strength.