EMBARGOED UNTIL 05:00 GMT 26 July 2004
Khartoum/Geneva/New York, 26 July 2004 – Amidst widespread reports of sexual violence and rape of women and children in Darfur, UNICEF concluded a three-day training of Sudanese police officers designed to assist them in investigating cases of rape of children. This initiative is the first of its kind and aims to sensitize police and other law enforcement officials on how to interview children who have endured sexual violence.
During her recent visit to Sudan, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy heard testimonies of children and women who have been victims of rape and other forms of violence. Countless children recounted the same horrifying story – almost always including rape and sexual violence, villages burned, parents killed and entire communities forced to flee their homes.
The rape of women and children has a devastating impact on entire communities. Women and girls are often raped in conflict situations as form of torture and to instill shame and fear within the community. For many girls and women, sexual violence is a culmination of a series of assaults on their dignity. They have often lost all aspects of their protective environment – with family members killed before their eyes with complete impunity, siblings and mothers raped and entire families displaced.
“The training of police officers is a first step in the right direction because only well trained personnel should interview children who have been raped or sexually abused” said Bellamy. “While insecurity is still rampant in Darfur, the Government of Sudan has a responsibility to protect its women and girls from the extraordinary brutality they have endured for far too long. Rape is not inevitable in war time: it is a crime and perpetrators must be held accountable.”
Major General Sayyid El Hussein Osman, Deputy Director General of Police in Sudan, and Cecilio Adorna, Acting UNICEF Representative in Sudan, opened the three day training session at the Police Training Academy at Rabat University in Khartoum. Two experienced Jordanian police officers --one man and one woman -- took part in the training of their Sudanese counterparts. Two Sudanese police officers also served as resource persons with the 32 participants.
The Jordanian Police have developed expertise unique in the region in assisting child victims of sexual abuse and other forms of violence.
In the next few months, the Jordanian police and UNICEF will assist the Government of Sudan in the training of all Sudanese police officers in Darfur, with special attention to the training of police women.
The humanitarian appeal for Sudan is still under funded – $19 million have been committed to the $40 million appeal.
Note for broadcasters: Video B-roll of Carol Bellamy meeting women and girls in Darfur, a training session by the Jordanian police, and a new interview with Carol Bellamy on this subject are available free of charge to news broadcasters on www.TheNewsMarket.com/unicef
* * * *
For further information, please contact:
Paula Claycomb, UNICEF Media, Khartoum: +249-912-309410 email@example.com
Sacha Westerbeek, UNICEF Newsdesk, Darfur: +249-912-167158 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jehane Sedky-Lavandero, UNICEF Media, New York: +212-326-7269 email@example.com
M. Anis Salem, UNICEF Reg’l Communication Adviser, Amman: +962 79 557 9991, firstname.lastname@example.org
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Media, Geneva: Mobile: +41-79-216-94-01, email@example.com