South Sudan, already one of the most difficult countries for women, has in recent years seen some of the highest levels of sexual violence in the world. Even before the civil war officially ended in September 2018, women and girls experienced high levels of gender-based violence (GBV) and had limited ways to address these crimes. Once civil war fueled by ethnic divisions engulfed the country in 2013, violence against women and girls grew even more pronounced. From 2013 until the end of 2018, soldiers on both sides of the conflict used sexual violence and torture, especially of women and girls, as part of their military strategies. Furthermore, a complete breakdown of the rule of law permitted armed men to operate with impunity throughout the conflict.
Devon Cone is the senior advocate for women and girls at Refugees International. Prior to joining Refugees International, Devon was the director of protection programs at HIAS where she was responsible for providing technical expertise to HIAS’ protection-related programming globally. Previous to HIAS, Devon worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon, Uganda, Egypt, and Kenya and for a variety of NGOs providing services to refugees. As part of her work, Devon has developed curriculum and led trainings on refugee protection for government officials, NGO staff, and UN agencies. At the request of the U.S. State Department, in 2015.