Talk about adding insult to injury. The U.N. Secretary General’s third report on Children and Armed Conflict in Sudan noted that:
children continue to be recruited and used by all parties to the conflict, that rape and sexual violence continue to be systematic and widespread and that children and women in and around refugee camps and internally displaced persons’ settlements are especially vulnerable.
Unfortunately, these findings are no surprise. Women and children are the most vulnerable populations and bear the brunt of suffering in conflicts all over the world. The recent U.N. report notes that, in Darfur, the abduction of girls is often linked to sexual violence, while the abduction of boys is for largely for recruiting child soldiers into armed groups that include the Sudanese military, police forces, and allied militias.
Sadly, abductions reported by the U.N. occurred primarily in the vicinity of internally displaced persons, or IDP, camps—areas where Darfur’s long-suffering population should be protected from harm. As my colleague Omer Ismail and I argued in our recent strategy paper,“Darfur Rebels 101,” security and welfare guarantees for the millions of people who have been driven from their homes during the more than six years of violence in Darfur must be essential elements of a renewed peace effort for Darfur. While the recent Doha agreement could be a modest step toward an inclusive Darfur peace process, it is essential that the needs and interests of Darfur’s civilian population, including its women and children, are considered, upheld, and fully represented.
For more information and statistics on the plight of Darfur’s internally displaced population, visit the Internally Displaced Monitoring Centre.