The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2019/280) issued on 29 March 2019.

The overall security situation in Darfur continued to improve with the Government of the Sudan taking several important measures, such as weapons collection campaigns, the repatriation of refugees and the allocation of land for returnees, the reintegration of internally displaced persons in host communities, the demarcation of migratory routes and the provision of water points for grazing animals.

Nonetheless, conflict-related sexual violence remains a concern as a result of some ongoing clashes among armed groups and the renewal of conflict in parts of Jebel Marra between Government forces and the Abdul Wahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army. The proliferation of weapons, criminality and sporadic intercommunal clashes render civilians, particularly women and girls, vulnerable. Sexual violence displaces civilians from their homes and prevents their return, which implies losing access to land and is a devastating outcome for most internally displaced persons, who once earned an income from farming. One specific pattern of sexual violence concerned women and girls in rural communities or in camps for internally displaced persons, who were routinely preyed upon while travelling or engaged in livelihood activities outside camps.

In 2018, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur documented 122 incidents of sexual violence involving 199 victims: 85 women, 105 girls and 9 boys in Central, South, North and West Darfur States. Rape constituted 80 per cent of reported incidents; 80 per cent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were described as armed and 31 per cent of cases were attributed to members of the security forces. However, cases of sexual violence are likely underreported owing to fear of reprisal and restricted access to conflict areas, to victims and to the sites of incidents.

Witnesses described the perpetrators as men in unspecified military uniforms, armed men in civilian clothes and members of specific armed groups, including Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction in the Jebel Marra (see S/2019/34). Government security forces, including the Sudanese Armed Forces, Rapid Support Forces and Sudan Police, were also identified. One incident in Jebel Marra involved 37 internally displaced women, who were sexually assaulted while they were returning from livelihood activities in Thur, Central Darfur. The alleged perpetrators were members of the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces and other unidentified armed elements.

Notably, the Armed Forces Act of 2007 criminalizes sexual violence that may occur during military operations; the implementation thereof is critical for the deterrence and prevention of such crimes. The Government has also established some specialized police structures and deployed judges, including to Darfur States, in order to enhance the investigation and prosecution of crimes of sexual violence. Unfortunately, there have been few prosecutions of such crimes.

At the invitation of the Government, my Special Representative visited the Sudan in February 2018 to establish a dialogue with national authorities towards a framework of cooperation to address concerns regarding conflict-related sexual violence.

Recommendation

I urge the Government to adopt a framework of cooperation with the United Nations and to work with my Special Representative and relevant United Nations system entities to develop an implementation plan in line with Security Council resolutions 2106 (2013) and 2429 (2018). I encourage the authorities to enhance existing accountability mechanisms and cooperate with the United Nations so as to facilitate access throughout Darfur for service provision, humanitarian assistance and monitoring.

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