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United Nations Independent Expert Calls on Sudan to Protect the Rights of Civilians in Darfur (23.02.2017)

Darfur UN

The region has been engulfed in a civil conflict since 2003 with hundreds of thousands of displaced people still living in camps.

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 23, 2017 -The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, has called on the Government in Khartoum to protect the rights of civilians in war-torn Darfur.

The region has been engulfed in a civil conflict since 2003 with hundreds of thousands of displaced people still living in camps.

Mr. Nononsi was speaking at the end of a 12-day mission during which he held talks with people living in the village of Adi Kong in western Darfur state.

“This community remains anxious about the security situation in the area,” he said. “Its members want enhanced protection of civilians by the authorities as well as basic services, including access to water, education and health care. It is essential for the Government, with the support of its international partners, to effectively protect the rights of civilians in a sustainable manner,” Mr. Nononsi stressed.

The Independent Expert also visited Sorotony Camp in northern Darfur, which provides shelter for people who have fled the fighting. He described the conditions of the displaced people living there as “precarious”.

Some of the residents spoke of living in a state of insecurity because of “armed elements” and of criminality both inside and outside the camp. Sexual and gender-based violence was also a serious concern in the Camp, added Mr. Nononsi.

He said information suggested the attacks were being carried out by armed individuals either outside the Camp when the women were doing their daily work, or inside it when they had returned.

Nine cases of rape were reported in the Sorotony Camp between 27 January and 18 February. But, Mr. Nononsi said many other incidents of sexual violence were not reported because of fear of the social stigma associated with rape. Women were also afraid to speak out, he said, because they feared reprisal. The absence of law enforcement institutions in Sorotony to effectively investigate and prosecute the rapists made matters even worse.

Ending his visit to Sudan, Mr. Nononsi said: “I urge the Government, which bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory, to promptly conduct investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice. I also urge the authorities in Khartoum to abide by the UN Security Council call for enhanced cooperation with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), in its efforts to protect civilians in Darfur.”

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