Rape cases in Darfur remain high despite improvement of security situation

April 16, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Sexual assaults remain high in Darfur region despite the improvement of security situation in Darfur, said the UN Secretary general in a report to the Security Council on conflict-related sexual violence released on Monday.

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Awatif Abdallah, 19, holds a letter from the police with a medical report scrawled on it saying she was raped and beaten. But the police refused to take her case, and a judge later dismissed it on 22 October 2004. (AFP/ Photo)

“While the rate of new displacements was lower in 2017 than in previous years, and humanitarian access had improved, sexual violence remained prevalent, owing to a volatile security environment awash with small arms and light weapons, criminality and sporadic clashes,” reads the report.

In his report on the conflict-related sexual violence in 2017, the secretary general praised the weapons collection campaign, the decline of tribal clashes, and the significant reduction of clashes between the government forces and rebel groups. Also, he pointed to the low rate of new displacement.

However, he said the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2017 reported 152 cases of rape, affecting 84 women, 66 girls and 2 boys, across the five states of Darfur.

He underlined a decrease from the 222 victims in 2016.

“The cases involved rape (90 percent), attempted rape (6 percent) and gang rape (4 percent). In 2 percent of cases, the victims were killed and, in many others, suffered grievous bodily harm,” he further said.

The report said 70% of the rape cases are perpetrated by “armed men or militia members in civilian attire”, while the remaining 30% are committed by the government regular forces and militia including the Sudanese Armed Forces, Rapid Support Forces, border guards and members of the Sudanese Police Force.

It also points that the spike in sexual violence coincides with the farming season, particularly along the migration routes of armed nomadic herders, from July to October.

During the first years of the Darfur conflict, rape cases mainly occurred around the camps of displaced persons with few sexual assaults in remote areas.

“In some cases, security fears have forestalled the return of civilians to their villages of origin. In one incident, a family living in West Darfur, which had previously fled to Chad as refugees, were forced back across the border into Chad after a relative was gang-raped, for fear of further attacks,” the report reads pointing the fragile security situation in Darfur.

(ST)