UN representative on sexual violence starts visit in Darfur
On Tuesday, the United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the level of Under‑Secretary-General Pramila Patten kicked off her visit to Darfur, starting with a meeting with the government of North Darfur in El Fasher.
The pro-government Ashorooq TV reported that during her visit, Patten praised the improvement of the security situation in Darfur region; especially the status of women. With her visit to Darfur the representative aims to inspect the security situation on the ground. A joint statement with the Sudanese government on combating sexual violence would be issued during the coming days.
Speaking after their meeting, Governor of North Darfur Abdelwahed Yousef said that the violations during the war in Darfur were “limited” and “had been dealt with in accordance with the laws, through the legal and police agencies concerned with the implementation of order”.
He said that the state has laws to prevent sexual abuse and rape, punishable by death and life imprisonment. He pointed out that there is a special family and child prosecutor.
A UN Report by the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence published in April 2017, states that the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) documented 100 incidents of conflict-related sexual violence, affecting 222 victims, specifically 102 women, 119 girls, and one boy between January and December 2016. Ten percent of these cases occurred during displacement.
Patten, from Mauritius, succeeded former Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura in April 2017.
The government of South Darfur and Unamid held a second meeting this week to develop the framework plan for the implementation of the development and stability strategy in the state. The plans also focus on security and stability so as to end the mission’s mandate for relief work and move to development.
The Unamid head of the Unamid South Sector, Berhanemeskel Nega, said: “The United Nations has asked Unamid to work on Unamid’s reconstruction of peace building in Darfur and peace keeping in Jebel Marra.”
The development strategy plan revolves around Unamid’s new mandate by the United Nations and the African Union, meaning that it operates under the umbrella of the Government of Sudan during the implementation of projects.
In June last year, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2363 that renewed Unamid's mandate with another year, yet with a reduction of more than a third of the nearly 19,000 Unamid military troops and police officers present in Darfur.
Unamid said in a press statement in September that a number of its team sites are handed over to the Sudanese government or appropriate private parties as per lease agreements.
Relations between Sudan and the UN became tense after Khartoum called for the withdrawal of the 17,000-strong Unamid peacekeeping mission from the country, following a mass rape in Tabit in North Darfur by army troops in October 2014. Khartoum has demanded the mission to construct an exit strategy from Sudan, with the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
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