The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2021/312) issued on 30 March 2021.

The signing of the Juba Peace Agreement in October marked a milestone in the stabilization of the Sudan. Nevertheless, active conflict persisted in several locations, including the greater Jebel Marra area, largely fuelled by clashes between factions of the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW), which did not join the peace process, and clashes with transitional Government forces. Intercommunal conflicts in West, North and South Darfur States pitted pastoral and farming communities against each other. There were continued reports of conflict-related sexual violence committed against women, girls and boys. Internally displaced women and girls faced heightened risks of sexual violence in and around the camps, including while engaged in livelihood activities. A Rapid Support Forces soldier reportedly raped a boy in a Darfur camp and an adolescent girl was reportedly gang-raped by three members of the Sudanese Armed Forces as she harvested fruit. A woman was abducted from a campsite and held hostage for several days by SLA-AW elements. Clashes between SLA-AW splinter groups in Central Darfur resulted in the targeting of girls by rebel elements for sexual violence, including abduction and gang-rape. During the reporting period, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) documented 105 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, affecting 65 women, 39 girls and 1 boy. Incidents were attributed to elements of SLA-AW and armed nomads. The Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces were also implicated.

The Security Council, in its resolution 2524 (2020), established the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS) to support the political transition and assist in peacebuilding, the protection of civilians and the strengthening of the rule of law. The mandate of the Mission includes promoting accountability for sexual and gender-based violence, and enhanced monitoring and reporting through the deployment of women’s protection advisers, which will support the implementation of the framework of cooperation to address conflict-related sexual violence signed between my Special Representative and the transitional Government in 2020. The transitional Government announced its adoption of all rights-related provisions in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including the prohibition of child marriage, which provides legal recourse to child victims of sexual violence who are forced to marry the perpetrator in out-of-court settlements. The Criminal Act of 1991 was also amended to criminalize female genital mutilation. The authorities adopted a national action plan on women and peace and security; reactivated the federal unit to combat violence against women; and, in response to the drawdown of UNAMID, developed a national plan for the protection of civilians to enhance security, especially for women and girls.

In response to the limited capacity of the justice system to investigate and prosecute sexual violence, the transitional Government drafted a law aimed at combating gender-based violence, which is pending adoption. Medical, legal and psychosocial services are only available in a few urban areas and access to post- exposure prophylaxis remains limited to major hospitals. The United Nations continued to support the provision of services and the training of service providers. UNAMID harnessed social media platforms for outreach, training and sensitization as part of efforts to adapt to the pandemic. Women protection networks in camps for internally displaced persons in Darfur promoted capacity-building on psychosocial assistance and dialogue between women, camp management and UNAMID. These networks have been instrumental in profiling perpetrators implicated in sexual violence, mapping hotspots and analysing threats to inform early warning. Furthermore, in December, a survivors’ network was launched to serve as a platform for advocacy and to facilitate access to specialized services.

Recommendation

I encourage the transitional Government to work closely with my Special Representative to implement the framework of cooperation. I also urge the authorities to enhance the protection of women and girls in areas affected by insecurity, to ensure comprehensive service provision for survivors and to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable for their crimes.

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