Darfur refugees still at risk of 'rape and violence'

The displaced inhabitants of the Sudanese region of Darfur are traumatised and humiliated, and remain at constant risk of rape and violence, a UN humanitarian official has said.

After visiting the war-torn area, Dennis McNamara, the Director of the UN's Internal Displacement Division, told a press conference in Kenya yesterday that rape and sexual violence against women and girls in Darfur was an "immense problem".

He made his remarks on the day that the Security Council deadline arrived for the Sudanese government to show that it is giving Darfur's vast population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) better protection and it is disarming the militias accused of attacking civilians.

On Thursday, Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, will brief the Security Council on his findings of whether Khartoum is making progress in its pledges.

In Nairobi, Mr McNamara said there was a "chronic lack of protection" for Darfur's estimated 1.2 million IDPs. He said the Sudanese government was continuing to pressure the IDPs to leave their makeshift camps and return to the homes they fled because of earlier attacks by the Janjaweed militias.

Mr McNamara said Khartoum's harassment was still occurring despite the efforts of officials from the UN, the African Union (AU) and many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Darfur to stop it.


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