UN Children's agency deeply concerned about increased violence against children in Darfur
GENEVA/NEW YORK, 18 November 2004 - UNICEF said today that reports of violence against women and children, in and around Darfur's camps for civilians displaced by fighting, seems to be increasing rather than diminishing.
Speaking from New York, the UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said that reports of aid agency monitors “strongly dispute claims that the situation is under control.”
Aid agencies working in the troubled region have expressed dismay at the steadily increasing number of people arriving in the camps, as well as a surge in violent incidents in and around the camps themselves.
In a series of incidents, children are said to have been loaded on to trucks and transported to a new camp without their parents, and injured in government attempts to re-locate camps. This forced relocation is in clear violation of international humanitarian law and existing agreements recently signed by the Government of Sudan.
Armed militia are raping girls and women in Darfur as a tactic to terrorize and humiliate individuals as well as their entire families and communities. To date there are few reports of attackers being punished. Many girls and women walk six to eight hours a day to get firewood for their basic survival -- terrified of harrassment and rape.
“The only party capable of securing the lives of these people is the government itself,” said Bellamy. “ For as long as we continue to hear of the violence and insecurity faced by Sudanese children, we will continue to call for those responsible to be brought to account for their actions.”
“Children are not just being driven from the lands of their ancestors. They are witness to and victims of violent terror. They suffer deprivation and sickness in their bid to escape. And they seek asylum along with their families in camps in which their security cannot be guaranteed.”
The stark statement comes just a day before an important extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council in Nairobi, at which members are addressing the peace negotiations between the SPLM and Government of Sudan, as well as the issue of the protection of civilians throughout Sudan.
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