France's MSF reports mass rape in Darfur

8th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

KHARTOUM, March 7 (AFP) - The UN emergency relief chief raised the alarm Monday over the mass rape of women in Sudan's Darfur region as a French health group reported treating hundreds of victims in recent months.

KHARTOUM, March 7 (AFP) - The UN emergency relief chief raised the alarm Monday over the mass rape of women in Sudan's Darfur region as a French health group reported treating hundreds of victims in recent months.

"The government officials said the Sudan had not known this outrageous crime against women before. They conceded that it has recently become a rampant phenomenon in the society in which hundreds of cases have been documented," Jan Egeland told a Khartoum press conference.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said its doctors had treated almost 500 women and girls that were raped in South and West Darfur between October 2004 and mid-February 2005.

Most of the victims were abused by "militia or military who used their weapons to force the assault," MSF said in report released Monday.

Egeland also accused "armed men, militias as well as government soldiers in addition to many ethnic militiamen of involvement in committing those crimes."

At least 70,000 people have died and another 1.6 million have been displaced after two years of fighting in the western region of Darfur, where the Arab-led government and its proxy militias have brutally put down a rebellion launched in February 2003.

"Almost a third (28%) of the rape survivors who sought treatment from MSF reported that they were raped more than once, either by single or multiple assailants. In more than half the cases, the rape was accompanied by additional physical abuse," the French group said.

The sexually abused women who received medical aid told MSF they were "beaten with sticks, whips or axes before, during or after the act of rape."

Some were visibly pregnant at the time of the assault and most said they were abused while collecting firewood or water outside the safety of their villages or refugee camps.

MSF warned that most cases of rape may have gone unreported because of the stigma associated with sexual abuse.

It also deplored the fact that some "victims of rape have even been imprisoned while the perpetrators of the crime go unpunished, adding to an appalling pattern of neglect and abuse."

Egeland said the Sudanese government had shown willingness to work with the African Union and the UN to have those responsible for such crimes be punished and also to prevent future sexual abuses by protecting women.

"We have to stop for good the ongoing killings and atrocities in Darfur which is witnessing possibly the world's worst conflict at the moment," he said, warning that if the international community failed to stop the fighting it might lead to "untold suffering for a long time to come."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan pressed the Security Council Monday to take urgent action on Darfur.

"We keep getting reports which show that the killing and raping and burning are still going on," he said after meeting the 15 council members.

Annan said the council, which has so far been divided over where trials would be held for those responsible for possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Darfur, should reach agreement this week.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article