PRISTINA - This week six KFOR Soldiers delivered boxes of feminine hygiene products, blankets, snacks and clothes, as they greeted the women of the Ferizaj/Urosovac Center for Protection of Women and Children.
The all-female US Army Soldier-team are one of multiple Liaison Monitoring Teams "(LMTs) in the NATO-led Kosovo Force.
Meetings like this are important for the LMTs to create open lines of communication with the NATO-led mission, build relationships and foster a stable environment for all of the people in Kosovo.
"We met with the women's shelter in order to get an update of the picture of domestic violence in the municipality," said 2nd Lt. Teresa Smalls, LMT Kilo 21 commander. "Being an all-female team is an extremely rare thing and allows us to reach certain demographics in Kosovo that other teams cannot."
The Center for Protection of Women and Children, also known as "My Home" has a mission
to create an environment for the promotion of women's rights in Kosovo, to improve health, well-being for women and children in the Ferizaj region regardless of race, age, gender and religion.
Their visit followed a mass donation of bedding and linens to the shelter and other surrounding schools in the municipality earlier in the month.
The donation was led by Army Support Group Balkans and supported by US-led KFOR Regional Command East.
Sevdije Kasumi Banjku, the domestic violence shelter manager said the shelter is currently advocating for a public building to ensure the safety of the shelter's victims. The LMTs help by continuing to address the issue to the municipality to ensure a public location.
Banjku recognized that one of their primary missions is to bring awareness to the citizens in the municipality of domestic violence especially during the pandemic.
Many countries in the World have reported a rise in incidences of domestic violence during the pandemic.
Gender-based violence against actually tends to increase during every type of emergency, including epidemics. Women who are displaced, refugees, and living in conflict-affected areas are particularly vulnerable. As distancing measures are put in place and people are encouraged to stay at home, the risk of intimate partner violence is likely to increase.
Despite COVID-19, KFOR Liaison Monitoring Teams continue their mission of supporting the institutions in Kosovo. LMT's are very much the eyes and ears of KFOR, and provide a highly valued link between communities and the force. They receive in-depth training in cultural awareness, face to face engagements, assessing and initiating CIMIC projects, and gender related matters.
KFOR is committed to support Institutions and Organizations that help victims of gender-based violence and has given its contribution to the regional shelter that was inaugurated in Zubin Potok, in northern Kosovo, last 30th of June, by installing a security system with surveillance cameras.
Story by KFOR Public Affair Office