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Darfur peacekeeping mission establishes sexual abuse unit

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August 18, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Darfur hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) announced today the establishment of an investigation unit to deal with sexual abuse in the troubled region.

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Women refugees leave their camp in Kalma, southern Darfur Sudan Thursday Jan . 31, 2008, to collect firewood under the protection of a U.N. patrol. (AP)

Women rape is seen in Darfur as a mean to intimidate the rebels, and their supporters and families. In 2006 UN workers said they had registered some 2500 cases of rape, but it is believed far more went unreported. Victims usually can’t identify their aggressors, which makes prosecutions impossible.

"UNAMID has established a gender crime special investigations unit within the police component that will be responsible for monitoring and reporting on investigations of crimes committed against women and children," the UNAMID said on Tuesday.

This unit will contribute to "bringing justice to the victims."

The unit will focus on addressing sexual based violence, rehabilitate victims, reduce stigmatization of victims of sexual abuse, and will work to encourage victims to report incidents freely to law enforcement agencies.

Further, it will provide support to the local law enforcement agencies in the investigation of complex cases of violation, such as sexual harassment, child abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence, child abandonment and prostitution.

Sudan has established, since 2005, a task force on rape in Darfur, headed by Attayet Mustapha, a pediatrician, government official and women’s rights activist.

The unit which will include police advisers with special training in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, was created last month in response to reports of continuous rape cases in Darfur.

The unit will work in coordination and collaboration with UNAMID Gender unit, criminal investigations unit, Human Rights, international non-governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, and other agencies, the local communities, and government agencies, concerned with gender related issues.

(ST)

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