Rape, fighting continue in Sudan's Darfur region despite accords - UN

3 December 2004 – Despite agreements signed between Sudan's Government and rebels in the country's Darfur region, recent reports of sexual violence and rape persist, contributing to a tremendous sense of insecurity among internally displaced persons (IDPs), the United Nations human rights agency said today.

Women and young girls were afraid to leave the camps in some areas, and fighting continued to put civilians at risk in various places, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) spokesman José Luis Díaz told reporters in Geneva in a briefing on the findings of agency monitors in Darfur during November.

As an example of the ongoing conflict he cited the launching of 18 mortars by Government forces into the village of Masteri in West Darfur in response to an attack from that region.

The UN has called the conflict the world's worst current humanitarian crisis, in which nearly 1.7 million people have been displaced and Janjaweed militias stand accused of killing and raping thousands of villagers after the rebels took up arms last year to demand a greater share of the economic resources of the area the size of France.

Attacks and counter-attacks have continued despite accords signed in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on 9 November between the Government and two rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) - aimed at improving the humanitarian and security situation.

Mr. Díaz said IDPs continued to distrust and fear the police and that widespread impunity continued, with reports that police still refused to record complaints of attacks. Armed Janjaweed militia and the Popular Defence Forces continued to roam throughout Darfur, contributing to the sense of insecurity. In South Darfur, there was an escalation in the number of forced relocations of IDPs.

He added that during the reporting period, there were apparently no arrests or trials of members of the Janjaweed. There were also reports of cases of abduction of civilians by the rebel Sudan Liberation Army in West Darfur.

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