Recent allegations have come to light that up to 200 women were raped in Tabit in North Darfur after Sudanese armed forces demanded that the residents of the village return a missing soldier. The ordeal is said to have lasted a period of eight hours and involved girls of basic school age. The army commander later apologised after finding the soldier in another area. The UN mission in Darfur, UNAMID, said they tried to enter the village to investigate the claims but were refused access at a military checkpoint. Commenting on the allegations, our Director, Olivia Warham MBE, said:
“These allegations are absolutely sickening. Sadly though, the systematic rape of Darfuri women is standard practice for Sudan’s armed forces. People on the ground are telling us that this story is true, and that the incident is not isolated, but part of systematic and sustained campaign of sexual violence. Only recently the UN Envoy to South Sudan said that sexual violence was ‘rampant’ in that country. Now it seems South Sudan has been taking lessons from its older brother.
“The UN mission in Darfur needs access to Tabit to verify these claims. Our Government has a role to play in this – it should press the Sudanese regime, particularly as President Omar Al-Bashir will want to curry favour ahead of potential negotiations on Sudan’s exemption from foreign debts announced recently. We can also increase pressure on the UN to report factually, as there have been recent controversies surrounding the mission’s under-reporting of atrocities where the Sudanese regime was involved. It’s not enough for us simply to throw up our hands and say ‘oh isn’t it awful!’, let’s use what leverage we do have to ensure that allegations are investigated and any perpetrators are brought to justice.”
UPDATE: This blog post seems to have annoyed the journalists at Sudan Vision. In an article from 12 November called UNAMID Verification Refutes Darfur Mass Rape Allegations they quote this release and accuse us of being “set up to undermine the Sudan”. We await the results of a full and impartial investigation into what happened in Tabit.