Opening of the Emergency Waiting Area in Mirihana

Opening of the Emergency Waiting Area at Mirihana Women and Children’s Bureau

by Staff Writer 10-07-2024 | 4:47 PM

Colombo, Sri Lanka - On July 9, 2024, H.E. MIZUKOSHI, Ambassador of Japan, and Kunle Adeniyi, UNFPA Sri Lanka Representative handed over the newly constructed Emergency
Waiting Area (EWA) at the Mirihana Women and Children’s Bureau, to Sri Lanka Police, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to provide safe and secure spaces for women and children during times of distress owing to gender-based violence (GBV).

The opening ceremony was attended by high-level dignitaries, including His Excellency MIZUKOSHI Hideaki, Ambassador of Japan, Hon. Tiran Alles, Minister of Public Security, Mr. Viyani Gunathilaka, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security Deshabandu Tennakoon, Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kunle Adeniyi, UNFPA Representative, Senior DIGs and representatives from the Women and Children’s Bureau of Sri Lanka Police.

The Emergency Waiting Area in Mirihana joins a network of operational EWAs across Sri Lanka, including those in Jaffna, Pudukuduirippu, Batticaloa, Mundalam, Kandy, and Nuwara Eliya. These facilities serve as vital safe spaces for women and children who have experienced violence, offering temporary shelter, support, and access to essential services while they await
further assistance or court procedures.

Operated under the purview of the Bureau for the Prevention of Abuse of Children and Women, these Emergency Waiting Areas provide assistance, ensure the safety and dignity of survivors, and offer access to a range of support services, including medical assistance, counseling, legal aid, and referrals to shelters. This initiative is vital for addressing the distressing prospect of survivors being kept overnight in prison cells, especially when they arrive at police stations during nighttime.

The establishment of the Mirihana EWA was made possible with a total investment of USD 210,000, generously funded by the People of Japan. World Vision Lanka supported with the construction of the EWA

In his remarks, UNFPA Sri Lanka Representative, Kunle Adeniyi, highlighted the importance of encouraging survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) to come forward by establishing trust in
the justice system through a survivor-centered approach. “The impact of these EWAs will ripple beyond individual survivors, fostering a cultural shift in how GBV is perceived and addressed.
By prioritizing survivor-centered approaches, we can challenge the societal norms that perpetuate silence and stigma. Empowered survivors can become advocates for change, breaking the cycle of abuse and inspiring others to seek help.”

H.E. Ambassador Mizukoshi expressed Japan’s continued commitment to supporting women and children in Sri Lanka, emphasizing the importance of these efforts in fostering a safer and more equitable society. "Japan's commitment to ending gender-based violence and promoting WPS (Woman, Peace and Security) is central to our development cooperation diplomacy. By creating safe spaces for survivors in Sri Lanka, we reinforce our dedication to gender equality and women's empowerment. This initiative aligns with our broader goals of ensuring sexual and
reproductive health and rights. Collaborating with UNFPA, we strive to build a future where women and girls are safe, respected, and able to reach their full potential. Together, we can realize a safe and secure world where human dignity is protected based on the SDGs principle of leaving no one behind."

As part of the ongoing expansion of this initiative, seven more EWAs are in the pipeline, set to open in Walapane, Murunkan, Dharmapuram, Modara, Kalutara-South, and two additional locations in Trincomalee and Ratnapura.

UNFPA Sri Lanka extends its gratitude to the People of Japan, the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security, Viyani Gunathilaka, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security,
Damayanthi S. Karunarathne, UNFPA Consultant, Dr. Thiloma Munasinghe, SDIG Priyantha Weerasooriya, DIG Renuka Jayasundere, Sri Lanka Police, and World Vision Lanka for their
invaluable support in making survivors feel safe and encouraged to seek assistance in times of distress owing to gender-based violence.

UNFPA Sri Lanka encourages anyone seeking assistance from the Police Women and Children’s Bureau, to contact the hotline at 109.