Rights Groups Urge Clinton to Address Treatment of Rape Survivors in Sudan Policy

(Washington,

DC) – Forty human rights and

advocacy groups have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (PDF)

calling for restoration of sexual and gender-based violence programming as a

priority issue for U.S. policy on Sudan. Treatment and care of rape survivors

was largely eliminated when Sudan

expelled 13 international NGOs and closed three Sudanese relief organizations

operating in Darfur in March 2009. Initiated

by Physicians for Human Rights, the letter

includes Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, Enough, Genocide

Intervention Network, Save Darfur, Refugees International and the International

Refugee Rights Initiative as leading signatories.

The expulsion of 16 relief organizations took place after

the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese

President Omar al-Bashir on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges on

March 4, 2009. Many of the expelled groups were doing work related to the

protection and treatment of rape survivors, including emergency assistance for

injuries, documentation of injuries, access to HIV/AIDS prophylactic treatment,

and pregnancy testing, as well as psychological and social support. These

programs were severed after the expulsion, and have yet to be restored.

Secretary Clinton introduced the Obama administration’s Sudan policy review on October 19, 2009, in which she

identified the humanitarian situation in Darfur as U.S. Strategic Objective #1

of the administration’s Sudan

policy. The review did not directly address care of victims of sexual and

gender-based violence, despite the scale of sexual violence during the

conflict, and the continued danger of attacks both within and around UNHCR

camps in Darfur and eastern Chad. 

In the public letterto Secretary Clinton, the groups state, “the U.S. is the

primary donor to the humanitarian operations in Darfur, and the recent

engagement of the al-Bashir regime by the Obama administration now presents the

opportunity to ensure that SGV services are provided to survivors in Darfur,

and across the Sudan-Chad border in Eastern Chad.”

The ongoing danger of rape and sexual violence facing women

and girls in Darfur and Eastern Chad

necessitates both protection and treatment services for the displaced Darfuri

populations. Peacekeeping forces have yet to implement firewood patrols in many

areas of South Darfur state, West Darfur state, and in Eastern

Chad, leaving Darfuri populations at risk. A recent report by

Cambridge-based Physicians for Human Rights, Nowhere to Turn: Failure to Protect, Support and Assure

Justice for Darfuri Women,found that as many rapes were reported at the Farchana refugee camp in

Eastern Chad, as were reported from attacks in Darfur.

PHR’s

Deputy Director, Susannah Sirkin, noted, “It is appalling that six years after women

fled these atrocities, they continue to suffer silently and in constant fear of

ongoing sexual assault.”

Georgette

Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, added, “In Darfur’s

pervasive climate of impunity, women and girls have little or no hope of

redress for these crimes.”

Update on the Hikers

The

parents of the three young American hikers who have been held in custody for

nearly 16 weeks by Iranian authorities, are urging supporters to send them

messages of support to help ease their isolation. The families have set up a

special PO Box where messages will be sent on to Evin Prison in Tehran.

“Not

being able to call us, and not knowing their fate, must weigh on them ever more

heavily as their detention drags on.” said Sarah’s mother Nora Shourd, on the

website www.freethehikers.org.

Shane

Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, were detained on July 31, 2009 when they

strayed into Iran

while hiking.

Messages

to the hikers should be written on a postcard and mailed in an envelope to Free

The Hikers, PO Box 15065,

Duluth, MN 55815, USA.

For more information, please visit www.freethehikers.org.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login