28 July 2004
U.N. workers in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan say the Janjaweed militia is continuing to rape and terrorize Sudanese women and is increasing its presence in some areas.
U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said U.N. staff members in Darfur report a growing number of Janjaweed militia men are moving into west Darfur and they say the fighters are raping Sudanese women who leave their refugee camps in search of supplies.
"At one camp, OCHA and UNDP staff interviewed women who were raped, some of whom had left the camp to collect firewood and others who had temporarily returned to their villages to retrieve belongings," she said. "According to those interviews, over the past week, at least 38 women were raped, mainly by the Janjaweed. Many were raped by multiple men."
Ms. Okabe also said humanitarian agencies are reporting daily attacks on commercial trucks in northern Darfur, making it difficult for supplies to reach those in need. Even though food and medicine is scarce, Ms. Okabe said many internally displaced people are too frightened to leave their temporary camps.
"Also in north Darfur, humanitarian agencies report that the Sudanese government is intimidating and harassing internally displaced persons as it tries to get them to return to their villages," she added.
The Sudanese government has threatened to force people to return to their homes but Ms. Okabe said so far, Khartoum has not acted on those threats.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Security Council continued deliberating a resolution that could impose sanctions on the Sudanese government.
The United Nations estimates that 30,000 people have died and at least one million people have been displaced in Sudan since fighting between the allegedly government-backed Janjaweed militia and Sudanese rebels began 17 months ago.