Sudan: Amnesty International Reports Sudanese Refugees in Chad Highly Vulnerable to Sexual Violence
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 2:00 PM

Sudanese female refugees living in camps in eastern Chad face high levels of sexual violence, according to an Amnesty International report released on 30 September 2009. Despite the presence of UN troops and the Integrated Security Unit, a Chadian police force trained by the UN, women and girls who fled the Darfur conflict are being attacked both within refugee camps and in the surrounding areas. The Amnesty report states that the perpetrators of violence include Chadian villagers, members of the Chadian National Army, aid workers and teachers working within the camps, and members of the Integrated Security Unit, who have a mandate to protect the refugees.

The report states that women and girls are most vulnerable when they leave the camps to seek firewood and extra water for cooking; women are frequent targets of both sexual and non-sexual violence by Chadian villagers who, according to Amnesty, resent the amenities given to the Sudanese refugees.

But Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty’s Africa program deputy director, states that is not just outside the camps that women face threats. “They face the risk of rape and other violence at the hands of family members, other refugees and staff of humanitarian organizations, whose task it is to provide them with assistance and support,” Hondora reported. (BBC)

Poor security and a culture of impunity compound the violence that many women and girls face. While the Integrated Security Unit is supposed to investigate rape cases, members of the force itself have been accused of raping refugees and many woman argue that their claims of rape and sexual assault are not taken seriously. Few of the 278 people arrested for sexual abuse in 2009 have been brought to trial.

"The [Integrated Security Unit] spends a lot of time protecting themselves. Even the UN soldiers have to protect them. No one seems to have much time to protect us," a female refugee at Gaga Refugee Camp told Amnesty International. (Amnesty)

Compiled from: BBC News, “Sudanese refugees ‘raped in Chad” (30 September 2009); Amnesty International, “Refugee Women in Chad Face High Levels of Rape Despite UN Presence” (30 September 2009); “’No Place for Us Here’: Violence Against Refugee Women in Eastern Chad,” Amnesty International report (2009). (PDF, 40 pages).