Sudan: UN Voices ‘Shock and Condemnation’ As Gender-Based Violence Soars Across Sudan

The UN’s top humanitarian officials on Wednesday voiced shock and condemnation over increasing reports of gender-based violence in Sudan as the military power struggle there continues.

The violations include conflict-related sexual violence against internally displaced and refugee women and girls forced to flee for their lives.

Agency chiefs from humanitarian coordination office OCHA, the human rights office (OHCHR), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA), UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO), called for an immediate end to the violence, including sexual violence as a tactic of war to terrorize people.

Investigations paramount

They demanded prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations into all alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law; and for perpetrators to be held accountable.

They also stressed that all parties must respect their obligations under international law to protect civilians, including women and girls, including allowing safe passage for survivors to access healthcare.

Health workers also need to be provided access to reach health facilities to carry out their lifesaving work.

The UN chiefs also stressed the need to swiftly scale up gender-based violence prevention and response services in Sudan as well as in neighbouring countries, where those fleeing violence have sought safety as refugees, to meet the soaring needs.

28 refugees killed in Khartoum

On Tuesday the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, urged Sudan’s warring generals to allow safe passage for civilians, after it was confirmed that 28 refugees being hosted by Sudan were killed in Khartoum.

The area where they were living was engulfed by the fighting on 25 June, the agency said in a news release, with other refugees injured during the incident.

“UNHCR is appalled and expresses its deepest condolences to the affected families. We are working to help trace relatives and victims and provide psychosocial and other support.”

Mamadou Dian Balde, UNHCR regional director, said that “once again refugees and other civilians are the innocent victims of this tragic war…Everyone must honour international humanitarian law and human rights law and prioritize the safety and well-being of affected communities, including refugees.”