U.N. Envoy: Rape in Abyei, Darfur Camps Denied Aid


The U.N. human rights envoy for Sudan on Wednesday highlighted reports of rape in Abyei after the army's occupation last month and criticized Khartoum for failing to provide essential aid to newly displaced Darfuris since January.

"I received allegations of killings, rape and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment during and subsequent to the attack" on Abyei, Mohamed Chande Othman told a news conference in Khartoum at the end of an eight-day visit.

He urged the government to grant the U.N. Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) unqualified access to Abyei town to verify the claims, and to conduct its own comprehensive investigation of events there.

Northern troops and tanks overran the contested border district on May 21 in response to a deadly attack two days earlier on an army convoy to the north of Abyei town, in which at least 22 northern troops were killed.

Little is known about the extent of the violence, due to restricted access, although around 100,000 people are now thought to have fled the region, and this week UNMIS reported continued looting in the Abyei area, despite the army's assurances they would stop it.

On Tuesday, army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad strongly criticized the UNMIS report.

Chande also complained of "strictly limited" humanitarian access to camps for those fleeing the violence in Darfur and expressed concern about continuing fighting between government forces and armed groups, especially in Jebel Marra, the region's fertile central plateau.

"IDPs (internally displaced persons) in Nyala... informed me that the newly displaced have not received aid, in the form of food, medical aid and shelter, since January," Chande said, adding that the "escalation of hostilities" in western Jebel Marra and in North Darfur was also affecting aid access.

It was Chande's third visit since his appointment as independent human rights envoy for Sudan in 2009, and he said it was the government's policy "not to favor an extension of the mandate."

He said he was "disappointed" to have his request to meet the national security chief turned down, for the second time in a row, after a similar request was blocked during his trip in March.

The U.N. rights envoy said he had received numerous reports of people being held for long periods without access to legal representation, and urged the government "to release all detained persons or try them with a recognizable offense."

He also highlighted serious concerns about the fighting between the army and the rebel militias in the south, where so far this year more than 1,500 people have been killed in violence, according to the United Nations.

"I continue to receive reports of human rights abuses with the most frequent and worst abuses perpetrated by the police and security forces of south Sudan," Chande said.

He urged the Juba government to take concrete measures to address "widespread impunity" ahead of the region's independence from the north next month.