In an announcement long overdue given the severity of the problem, UNAMID, the peacekeeping force in Darfur, said last week that it has tasked a seven-person team with monitoring and reporting on gender based violence in the region.
In Darfur, thousands of cases of sexual gender-based violence have been reported in a conflict that began in 2003 and has left an estimated 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced. However, the true number of women and girls who have fallen victim to sexual violence in Darfur is difficult to estimate because of the sensitivity of the crimes that dissuades many survivors from reporting their cases.
According to the announcement, the gender crime special investigations unit exists within UNAMID’s police force and was created in response to an uptick in gender-based violence during the past two years. The specially trained unit will work to encourage victims to report incidents to local law enforcement authorities, reduce the stigmatization of sexual abuse, and help to rehabilitate victims. It will also provide support to local law enforcement agencies in investigating complex cases, like child abuse, human trafficking, prostitution, and domestic violence.
The team will work alongside the community, government, and non-governmental organizations to improve monitoring and reporting of crimes against women and children.
Additionally, the staff of UNAMID’s human rights and rule of law sections completed a four-day training course on human rights standards. The training, which was funded by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was held in El Fasher in North Darfur state. The U.N. notes that this training was the first of its kind in North Darfur since the peacekeeping force deployed to Darfur in 2007, a troubling revelation indeed.