UN urges immediate action against sexual violence in conflict-torn Sudan

By Anadolu Agency

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called on Friday for swift action against the scourge of sexual violence in the war-torn Sudan.

“After one year of hostilities in Sudan, we are appealing for more international engagement to combat sexual violence against women and girls in the country,” said Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten and Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya in a joint statement.

“These barbaric acts, which echo the horrors witnessed in Darfur two decades ago, must spur immediate action,” the officials said.

“As members of the Security Council meet this week for the annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence, we urge them to send an unequivocal message: Under international humanitarian law, civilians in Sudan must be protected and must never be subjected to acts of sexual violence, which constitute war crimes,” the statement said.

“Allegations of rape, forced marriages, sexual slavery, and trafficking of women and girls – especially in Khartoum, Darfur, and Kordofan – continue to be recorded,” it added.

The officials stressed that “the true scale of this crisis remains unseen, a result of severe underreporting due to stigma, fear of reprisals, and a lack of confidence in national institutions.”

The officials pointed out that “without increased political and financial support for the vital work of frontline responders – especially organizations led by women – access to life-saving services will only continue to shrink.”

“We must continue to shore up our support for the people of Sudan – critically by combating sexual violence in all its forms and ensuring that Sudanese frontline responders stay at the centre of those efforts,” they added.

The war in Sudan broke out on April 15, 2023 over disagreements to integrate the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) into the army between the army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

The conflict has caused a devastating humanitarian crisis, and clashes have killed nearly 16,000 people and displaced millions.