Posted on August 16, 2004

U.N.: Sudan Police Sexually Exploiting Darfur Women

Reuters, Yahoo! News, Aug. 14

KHARTOUM, Sudan (Reuters) — Sudanese police officers sent to restore security in troubled Darfur are sexually exploiting refugee women, according to a U.N. report.

Khartoum says it has sent 10,000 police to the western region, and has only about two weeks to convince the U.N. Security Council it is serious about improving the plight of people in Darfur or face unspecified sanctions.

“IDPs (Internally Displaced People) report increasing incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation in Abu Shouk Camp near el-Fasher committed by police officers,” said the U.N. humanitarian situation report, received by Reuters Saturday.

Khartoum pledged last week to set up safe areas for the 1 million people the United Nations (news — web sites) says have been uprooted by what it calls the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

The U.N. says up to 50,000 people have died as a result of the Darfur conflict, which erupted in early 2003. The government says the figure does not exceed 5,000.

“According to the IDPs the police are exploiting women’s inability to venture outside of the camp to collect firewood out of fear of Janjaweed attacks by collecting the firewood for the women in exchange for sexual favors,” the report added.

It said some police had threatened women with violence if they did not comply with their demands.

Rights groups and the two main rebel groups in Darfur say Khartoum has armed Arab militiamen known locally as Janjaweed — a term derived from the Arabic for “devils on horseback” — to loot and burn African farming villages.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said in a speech Saturday Sudan was able to deal with the Darfur crisis.

“We are capable, with the help of God, to cast down discord in Darfur and to settle the situation and to achieve security, social peace, the unity of our nation and the rule of law,” he said.

A local Darfur government official told Reuters an international aid worker had been arrested after a man was killed in a camp for displaced people in Darfur.

“The manager for the Care organization in Southern Darfur state, who is an international, is currently under arrest as per the charges brought against him of gross negligence leading to death by the victim’s family,” said South Darfur state spokesman Gadein Goudtallah Dagash.

The identity of the aid worker was not immediately known.

Displaced people in Kalma camp, east of the South Darfur state capital Nyala, beat and stabbed to death Friday a man they accused of being a Janjaweed fighter.

The government of South Darfur state has initiated legal proceedings against Care, Dagash said. The situation in the camp is under control, he said. A Reuters witness said three planes arrived in el-Fasher in North Darfur state Saturday morning loaded with supplies and equipment for the arrival Sunday of the first contingent of 274 Rwandan and Nigerian troops who will protect 60 African Union cease-fire observers in Darfur.