Sexual violence in Sudan being committed on 'sickening scale', UN says

Reports are 'just a fraction' of the true extent of crimes

Amani Abdullah, 20, fled the conflict in Geneina in Sudan's Darfur region. Reuters
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Sexual violence is being committed in Sudan on a "sickening scale", United Nations officials have told the Security Council.

"The alarming accounts of sexual violence that are heard from people who have fled to Port Sudan are just a fraction of those being repeated at a sickening scale from conflict hotspots across the country," senior UN aid official Edem Wosornu said.

Ms Wosornu, who is the director of operations and advocacy at the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, recounted her visit to Sudan two weeks ago.

"Women and girls I spoke to shared accounts of being forced to flee far from their homes... They told me stories of sexual violence, harassment, and physical assaults. Of husbands disappearing never to be seen again. Of education interrupted, careers ruined, and livelihoods lost. Teachers and nurses who had fled their home with salaries not paid."

A brutal war broke out in Sudan on April 15 between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

The US had previously accused "armed actors" of perpetrating sexual violence crimes.

In Wednesday's UNSC meeting, the UK's UN ambassador Barbara Woodward blamed both sides for violations of international humanitarian law.

Every day, the humanitarian crisis gets worse.

Since the last UN meeting on June 23, 1.4 million more people fled their homes, the UN said.

As it stands, 3.2 million people are internally displaced and 900,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, including Chad, Egypt and South Sudan.

Doctors have fled the violence and most medical facilities have been targeted by air strikes, shelling or looting of vital supplies like blood for transfusions.

"Horrible situation today. Fighting is taking place in the centre of Omdurman and there are bullets and shrapnel are all around our houses. Too many injured civilians – most of them can’t even get to the hospital to get treated. Bodies are on the streets and no one can move to rescue the injured," Doctor Rashid Mukhtar, volunteer with international health and humanitarian organisation Project Hope, said on Monday, during renewed violence in the capital.

"People are finding it more and more difficult to access urgent medical assistance, with 80 per cent of hospitals across the country not functioning," Ms Wosornu said.

Also, half of all the children in the country – about 14 million – need humanitarian support and 40 per cent, that's 20 million people, are facing high levels of "acute food uncertainty" Ms Wosornu said.

"The conflict is disrupting livelihoods and physical access to markets. It is also fuelling steep increases in the price of commodities."

The World Health Organisation had previously warned of a measles outbreak which has become "deadly" for people in Sudan as the country braces for an upcoming rainy season and a rise in waterborne diseases.

Updated: August 10, 2023, 9:43 AM